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Authorities impose media coverage restrictions on financial crisis

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 29 October 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Concerned By Reporting Restrictions in China on Financial Crisis

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by restrictions imposed by China's authorities on media reports about the impact of the current global financial turmoil in China.

According to journalists who contacted the IFJ, propaganda officials in Guangdong province and the central government in Beijing tried to restrict reporting on factories being shut down in the Pearl River Delta Region, a manufacturing zone in the province, after reports appeared in newspapers.

The affected factories include those owned by Hong Kong-based Smart Union Group (Holdings) Limited, a toy manufacturer which reportedly filed for liquidation in October causing the loss of thousands of jobs in Guangdong.

Published reports were careful not to name factories owned by companies based in mainland China but instead Hong-Kong based companies. Local journalists had believed they had wider latitude to report on companies not based in mainland China.

Since the order from Guangdong and central government propaganda officials, newspapers have reportedly been instructed to reduce reporting on the factory shutdowns and refrain from negative commentary about the crisis.

The IFJ is also distressed to hear that some dissidents were told not to speak to foreign media despite the October 17 extension of the reporting regulations which allow foreign journalists to interview subjects in China without restriction.

"These reports suggest China has begun to wind back any progress made during the Olympic Games period," said IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"In a time of global crisis, the people of China and the world need accurate information about what's happening in China. Restrictions on both local and foreign media must be lifted to allow for free reporting."

The IFJ urges China's Government to uphold both the spirit and the letter of its reporting regulations for foreign journalists and to cease interference in local reporting.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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