China is using coronavirus to block journalists' freedom: Media group

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Mar 01, 2021, 01:47 PM(IST)

A file photo of China's flag Photograph:( Reuters )

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It has also been alleged that China has been regularly using coronavirus restrictions as a way to threaten journalists and block access to media

In yet another accusation against China's freedom rights, a press group has alleged that the Asian country is using the deadly coronavirus as "yet another way to control journalists".

The press group has alleged that China has introduced extra surveillance and restrictions in the country, citing coronavirus as the reason behind the tightened security.

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"China has used the pandemic as yet another way to control journalists," said The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) in its annual report.

Although China's city of Wuhan was the original epicentre of the deadly virus, the cases of coronavirus have now significantly declined to almost zero. 

However, the press group claims that Beijing is still promoting an official narrative saving itself from the blame of the public health disaster which has taken millions of lives around the globe.

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"As China's propaganda machine struggled to regain control of the narrative around this public health disaster, foreign press outlets were repeatedly obstructed in their attempts to cover the pandemic," the media group said.

It has also been alleged that China has been regularly using coronavirus restrictions as a way to threaten journalists and block access to media. They also claimed that many times reporters have been "forced to abandon reporting trips after being told to leave or be quarantined".

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Nearly 42 per cent of respondents said they have been, in the recent past, asked to leave a place or denied access, citing health and safety restrictions, even though the correspondents could see no such risk.

The FCCC also added that the Beijing authorities have created coronavirus checkpoints and contact tracing apps that have "created additional opportunities for Chinese authorities to gather data and surveil foreign journalists and their sources".

It has also been alleged that the Beijing officials are asking journalists to comply with coronavirus measures that are not being applied to anyone else.

As China's foreign relations worsened with the majority of the other countries — especially the US — Beijing has seen "the largest expulsion of foreign journalists since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre more than three decades ago" in 2020, the FCCC claimed.

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