News June 10, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Disturbing new regulations prior to Olympic Games, increased control in Sichuan Reporters Without Borders condemns new restrictions imposed on foreign visitors to China two months before the Olympic Games and on Chinese “fixers” working for foreign journalists. The authorities have also become more obstructive towards foreign journalists in Sichuan following protests by parents whose children were killed when schools collapsed in the earthquake. Receive email alerts Help by sharing this information June 2, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the introduction of new rules aimed at reinforcing controls over Chinese “fixers” working for foreign journalists and over all foreigners visiting China during the Olympic Games. The organisation also condemns an increase in police controls of foreign journalists trying to cover protests by parents whose children were killed when schools collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake.”Any hope of seeing China calmly open up ahead of the Olympic Games is gradually vanishing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities have introduced regulations hostile to foreigners, who are suspected of wanting to disrupt the games, and are trying to impose greater controls on Chinese citizens working for foreign reporters. And, on the Propaganda Department’s initiative, the government is restricting the work of the Chinese and international press in Sichuan.””These measures, just two months ahead of the inauguration of the Beijing games, are bordering on paranoia and are a long way from the One World, One Dream slogan. We urge the International Olympic Committee to put pressure on the government to rescind some of these provisions and to ensure that the international press can work freely in Sichuan.”Reporters Without Borders added: “So far, the IOC has not reacted to these archaic regulations, preferring to issue a memo in May reminding national Olympic committees that their athletes should under no circumstances demonstrate at Olympic sites.”Control of Chinese fixersChinese citizens working for foreign news media must now comply with new rules designed to get them to register with the authorities. Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the new rules, which were distributed by the CIECCO, a state entity that is supposed to help foreign companies, including news media, to find Chinese employees.The Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has been insisting since January 2007 that the foreign media recruit professionals chosen by official intermediaries as translators. The latest rules want all Chinese working for the foreign media to be registered and suggest that the authorities should “select and name appropriate candidates” for the foreign media.If foreign journalists want to propose their own candidates, they must provide an ID, a curriculum vitae, evidence of no criminal record and a medical certificate. And a contract must be signed between employer and employee.The Foreign Correspondents Club of China told Reporters Without Borders that “hiring and registering assistants through government service agencies potentially increases bureaucracy, expense and oversight by the authorities.” The FCCC hopes the foreign media will eventually be able to hire Chinese as journalists, photographers or cameramen, but for the time being that is not allowed.Reporters Without Borders has also learned of a directive issued by the BOCOG media centre’s visa division telling journalists to submit precise information about coverage plans in China, including the places they want to visit and the people they want to interview, in order to obtain a J-2 visa, which is for media personnel who want to arrive before the 8 August start of the games. The BOCOG also requires a letter from an employer, which effectively eliminates freelancers.These new provisions come at a time when the issuing of multiple-entry visas is being restricted and obtaining tourist or business visas is taking much longer, even through Hong Kong. The government refuses to explain this tougher policy, which seems to be linked to fear of demonstrations during the games.Call to order for foreignersThe BOCOG issued a set of guidelines for foreigners visiting the games on 2 June. In a question-and-answer format and so far only in Chinese, the guidelines tell foreigners they “must respect Chinese laws while in China and must not harm China’s national security or damage the social order.”They say “terrorists,” sex workers, drug traffickers, people suffering from AIDS or tuberculosis and “subversives” are banned from entering China. Some of the guidelines directly target those who would like to demonstrate during the games. “Public gatherings, marches and demonstrations cannot take place without prior permission from the police.” They also restrict freedom of opinion, forbidding foreigners from bringing with them documents, disks or audio recordings critical of China.Media obstructed in SichuanBecause of the anger of the parents of children killed in schools in Sichuan, the authorities have tended to obstruct the work of the foreign media in the province. On 6 June, two Agence France-Presse journalists were prevented from entered Wufu, a city where demonstrations took place after a primary school collapsed.Foreign reporters were briefly detained and expelled on 5 June from Juyuan and Hanwang, two towns where schools collapsed. Photographers were removed from a demonstration by about 100 parents in Dujiangyan on 3 June, and a reporter and photographer from the Japanese news agency Kyodo were detained for several hours. According to the FCCC, two Dutch journalists were stopped by the police when they tried to go to Dujiangyan.The Chinese press has been forbidden to cover the collapsed schools story freely. Chinese journalists told the New York Times that the order came from Beijing. The website of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project (http://cmp.hku.hk/) reported that the Guangdong province Communist Party’s propaganda ordered the local media to pull their journalists out of Sichuan. The site also reported that Li Changchun, the Communist Party’s propaganda chief, went to Sichuan.The public security department has been told to put a stop to the “illegal gatherings” and to pressure the families of victims to stop talking to the foreign press. State media propaganda continues to praise the government’s efforts. State-owned CCTV’s website even went so far as to portray a demonstration in homage to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989 as a homage to the victims of the 12 May earthquake.Finally, BOCOG intransigence on security issues is giving rise to tension with international TV stations that acquired broadcasting rights. The Associated Press reported on 8 June that there were angry tensions at a meeting in Beijing at the end of May between the BOCOG, the IOC and international TV stations over China’s refusal to permit live coverage of events in certain places such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and delays in granting permission for broadcast equipment. News China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison Democracies need “reciprocity mechanism” to combat propaganda by authoritarian regimes ChinaAsia – Pacific April 27, 2021 Find out more Organisation News China’s Cyber Censorship Figures News to go further RSF_en ChinaAsia – Pacific Follow the news on China March 12, 2021 Find out more
By Stephanie SchupskaUniversity of GeorgiaAfter Hurricane Katrina, Don Hamilton and other University of Georgia employees took care of 3,000 abandoned animals for 10 days at a shelter in Mississippi. The experience sparked them to develop a workshop to help keep Georgia animals and citizens safer during disasters.They’re now taking the “Handling Animals during Disasters” planning workshop to counties around Georgia. “If you don’t have a place to shelter animals in disaster, people aren’t going to evacuate,” said Hamilton, homeland security coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Georgia requires that each of its 159 counties have a local emergency operations plan. This plan contains a section on agriculture and natural resources, which includes handling companion animals. This is also required through the national Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards Act.“After evacuation and disaster, there’s a tremendous problem with abandoned animals – dogs, cats, birds and livestock,” said Jeff Doles, director of Peach County’s Emergency Management Agency. “Before you can re-inhabit an area or allow citizens to return, you have to control the animal population. Now the encouragement is to take your animals with you so they don’t have to take care of themselves.”Through the workshop, UGA experts helped Peach County research and develop its plan and guided various county players through mock disaster situations.“They did a lot of groundwork where the rubber hits the road,” Doles said. “I can’t tell you how much help they were to us. We’re a small county. It would be virtually impossible for us to accomplish a plan of the magnitude we’ve got using our local resources.”In February, Dole, UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator Frank Funderburk and others from the Fort Valley area tested their on-paper plan for handling animals in a disaster situation. The two mock disasters “taught us to adapt,” said Doles, who is also the county’s fire chief. “We had some problems that we identified in our exercises, but we had a lot of strengths. I think it’s some of best training done in a while.”The Georgia Department of Agriculture was a key player in the effort. UGA’s Fanning Institute helped facilitate it. The county’s board of commissioners has since added the animal plan to the local emergency plan, which the city and county use to respond to and recover from any manmade or natural disaster. As part of the plan, Doles is the first person county officials will call if there is a disaster. The third person on that list is Funderburk, who keeps a copy of the plan close by, ready to grab in case a tornado hits a veterinarian’s office or a hurricane sends evacuees up I-75, pets in hand, looking for shelter.“I hope we don’t ever have to use it, but at least we’ve got a plan,” he said. Hamilton is now helping emergency management officials in Brooks and Houston counties develop their own plans. These counties were chosen because of their proximity to Georgia’s interstates, their willingness to participate and their local resources. The workshops are funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on behalf of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.