Friday, October 17, 2008

China to extend 'media freedoms'

Media were still subject to harassment during the Beijing Games

Media freedoms that were implemented during the Beijing Games were due to be rescinded today. Media reports today on Sky and CNN aired their concern that China might revert to their old ways; restricting movement and implementing rules requiring permission to film in certain locations [BBC / Sky News / BBC] . However despite these fears it has been announced that the reporting freedoms are to become permanent [AP / BBC]. China had been obliged by the IOC to relax the rules covering journalists. However even during the Olympics several foreign journalists, cameramen and photographers were harassed by the police. In Beijing an ITN correspondent was arrested covering a demonstration by pro-Tibet demonstrators. In Xinjiang two Japanese citizens filming a story about a terrorist attack on a police station were beaten, arrested and had their equipment smashed. An apology was forthcoming from Beijing authorities but with a comment stating the journalists should not have been in the area. It remains to be seen whether anything changes.

Further food scandals have prompted authorities to offer apologies to consumers that fell sick in Japan. Frozen green beans contaminated with insecticide has sickened several Japanese people who ate them [CNN / Xinhua].

Meanwhile it is the financial crisis that is biting China the hardest. Hundreds of toy workers protested outside factories and government buildings in Guangdong after they were made unemployed [BBC]. The credit crunch as well as scandals of tainted and unsafe goods have taken their toll on much of China’s manufacturing base. The Chinese news agency Xinhua said 52.7% of the country's 3,631 companies making toys for export went out of business in the first seven months of the year. But it’s not just toys. Car prices were also forced down after a drop in sales [Xinhua]. And although there were slight gains on China’s stock market on Friday, the market remains volatile [China Daily].

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