Radio France Internationale published an article titled “The Awkward Silent Moment of the Foreign Press in China.” The article described a recent incident involving a direct verbal conflict between the foreign press stationed in China and Hua Chunying, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department. During the conflict, many foreign reporters chose to remain silent fearing they would lose their press visa. The conflict started during a regular media conference that the Foreign Ministry held on January 30. On the same day, the FCCC (the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in China) published a report which stated that over 40 percent of the foreign reporters stationed in China felt that they faced worse treatment in 2017. That number was 29 percent in 2016. The report also commented that, based on strong evidence, it is getting more and more difficult for foreign reporters to report news in many regions, especially in Xinjiang where, in 2017, 73 percent of the foreign reporters were either denied access or given limited access. That number was 42 percent in 2016. During the media conference, one reporter raised a question about the FCCC report and asked what China would do to improve the situation. Hua Chunying bluntly countered and said that the claims in the report were sheer nonsense and asked all the reporters at the conference to raise their hands if they agreed with the FCCC report. None of them raised their hands. China’s Huanqiu reported on this incident and praised Hua for her response. On February 1, one Japanese Sankei Shimbun reporter spoke up during that day’s press conference and said that he was not present during the media conference on January 30; he agreed with the FCCC report and wished that China would do something to improve the situation that the media faced. That question angered Hua Chunying. She asked how many of the 600 foreign reporters belonged to FCCC and why Sankei Shimbun was the only media that felt that they were mistreated. She stated that Sankei Shimbun reporters should reflect upon themselves to find out if they did anything wrong. On Sina Weibo, Hua’s response received wide support. Some posts even suggested that the Sankei Shimbun Japanese reporter should be expelled from China.
Source: Radio France Internationale, February 2, 2018