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Chinese harass Western journalists on Lhasa

April 9, 2008

A WSJ NEWS ROUNDUP
April 7, 2008

BEIJING -- Some Chinese nationalists have undertaken a campaign of
harassment, including violent threats, against foreign reporters who
took part in a recent trip to Lhasa, for alleged bias in their coverage
of unrest in Tibet.

The intimidation efforts have included hundreds of calls and text
messages to the cellphones of reporters who took part in the
government-arranged Lhasa trip late last month, including correspondents
from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Associated Press. The
flood of threats began this past week after the cellphone numbers,
Chinese names, and brief descriptions of several of the correspondents
were published on a military-themed Internet bulletin board.
Contributors to that site have boasted of making harassing phone calls,
and posted their own violent threats. "Beat to death these unjust,
conscienceless criminals," wrote one.

The campaign is the latest escalation in a nationalist backlash against
Western news coverage of the March 14 antigovernment riots in Tibet and
their aftermath. The precise basis for the complaints isn't clear,
although critics have circulated a few photographs published on news Web
sites that they argue were misleadingly cropped or captioned. More
broadly, the anger reflects deep-seated resentment among many Chinese --
fostered by decades of government propaganda -- at perceived
interference in China's internal affairs by foreign governments and
groups. The phone calls and text messages in recent days have ranged
from relatively mundane denouncements to profane attacks on the
reporters and their families to numerous threats of violence and death.
("You damned American devil, God will punish you. Tomorrow you will be
hit by a car and killed.")

Some Tibetans and their supporters also have responded in recent weeks
with angry emails to Western reporters, complaining about what they
claim is skewed coverage of the Tibet unrest in favor of the Chinese.

It isn't clear how the contact information for the reporters who took
part in the Lhasa trip made its way onto the Internet. China's
government, which routinely censors material on the Internet that it
doesn't like, has allowed the contact information to remain on the Web.
The Wall Street Journal asked the company that hosts the bulletin-board
site where the contact information was first posted to remove it. The
company said it couldn't do anything until Monday, citing a holiday in
China.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, asked about the
harassment at a routine news conference Thursday, said he was unaware of
it. Ministry officials couldn't be reached Friday, which was a national
holiday in China.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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