"Beijing Olympics and the fight for press freedom"

New fears about press freedom are mounting as everyone awaits the Beijing Olympic Games, due to start tomorrow.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan has officially added its voice to the calls for the Chinese authorities to lift its restrictions on internet access for journalists.

This comes after a reporter and photographer for two Japanese news organizations were attacked by paramilitary police while trying to cover a fetal attack in Kashgar, according to reports.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China says on its website:

Masami Kawakita, a photographer with the Tokyo Chunichi Sports newspaper, and Shinji Katsuta, a reporter with the Nippon Television Network, were attempting to cover the recent lethal attacks on police. According to their organizations, the Kyodo news service and several witnesses, the paramilitaries forcibly removed them from a public street, beat them and damaged equipment.

The Chinese government apologized for this pretty quickly—with the abundance of bad press they could not have afforded to wait. According to state-run news agency Xinhua, a local official said “Journalists are forbidden in the area controlled by border police, but the two disobeyed the rules...But we are sorry for the incident and the damage to the equipment that belonged to the reporters.”

“The Chinese government is using the threat of terrorism to clamp down on minority groups including the Uyghurs, some of whom want to establish independence,” says Stuart Biggs of Bloomberg News, citing human rights groups. But it appears that they are clamping down on more than minority groups. Despite the risk of dragging its image down even further, the Chinese authorities are mistakenly picking a fight with some of the loudest voices in the world—the foreign press.

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=atr.VjtzWRmw

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Interesting. However, this all goes to show why Beijing getting the Olypmics is a good thing - more press attention on the CCP's political track record. Of course, violence is awful but let's hope it hasn't been a pain and the authorities are forced to succumb to press pressure. Journalists should turn on the heat without taking it too far by questioning the benefits to the Chinese people of having this exciting international event in their capital.