A man wades on a flooded road after heavy rain in Xinxiang, in central China’s Henan province. Photograph:( AFP )
Mathias Boelinger and Alice Su, two reporters in Henan, were doing on-ground coverage of the floods and the aftermath of the deadly natural disaster. They were reporting about how the underground markets of the area were flooded which had led to shopkeepers losing their assets
Foreign journalists who were fighting for their lives to bring the latest coverage of the China floods have faced hostility and survived ‘vicious campaigns’ against them in China.
Some reporters from the Los Angeles Times and Deutsche Welle had to face angry crowds in Zhengzhou who believed the media personnel were slandering China.
Mathias Boelinger and Alice Su, two reporters in Henan, were doing on-ground coverage of the floods and the aftermath of the deadly natural disaster. They were reporting about how the underground markets of the area were flooded which had led to shopkeepers losing their assets.
While some people co-operated, others got angry at the ‘foreigners’ and accused them of "rumour mongering".
"There were many other ppl [sic] in Zhengzhou and the surrounding worse-hit areas who were open and even eager to talk about the destruction and difficulties they’re facing," Su tweeted. "But this crowd seemed really angry and eager just to tell the foreigners off."
DW’s reporter, Boelinger, said the crowd was mainly attacking them as they thought the two reporters were from the BBC and he was BBC correspondent Robin Brant.
At one point an angry man pulled out a phone w a blurry screenshot of another white man and yelled “this is him! It’s him!” I told him no, that’s just another white guy, please calm down— Alice Su (@aliceysu) July 25, 2021
"What I did not know at the time was that a manhunt was on after [Brant]," said Beolinger. "There is a vicious campaign against the BBC News in nationalistic circles and state media."
When the two reporters shared their traumatic experience on Twitter, some other reporters, too, replied saying they had been through the same unpleasant experience while reporting about floods in China.
A woman who had tried to de-escalate the situation for the 'foreigners' was identified as a local reporter by users of China’s social media platforms and she was subjected to criticism for her actions.
This has come as the official casualties do not match with the numbers being reported by the local media. China’s government has announced 69 deaths and only five missing people. However, local media has reported at least 22 other people who have been missing since Tuesday afternoon.