Usually, when governments meet for a summit, the meetings end with a press conference. But not on Wednesday at the EU-China summit in Brussels. The Chinese delegation had the scheduled press conference cancelled because independent Chinese media, including The Epoch Times, were going to attend and possibly ask questions, according to journalists present at the scene.
Four reporters from the Chinese versions of The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty Television were initially denied entry to the European Council building where the press conference was to be held on Oct. 6, ostensibly because of “security reasons.”
Later, they were allowed in, but the press conference was cancelled.
“It is a very strange thing and it is very suspicious,” said Lorenzo Consoli, President of the International Press Association (IPA) in Brussels. “I think it is quite likely that actually there was very strong interference by the Chinese delegation on the EU organization, in order to block access to independent Chinese media to the final press conference of the EU-China summit,” he said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was scheduled to be at the conference.
“This has never happened before,” said Lixin Yang, a journalist with The Epoch Times in Belgium, speaking about their initially being denied entry. “We regularly cover the news there, many different summits. It’s only this time, when the Chinese delegation is there. We asked but they couldn’t explain it. The press officers said ‘These are our instructions.’”
Beijing opposes both media companies because of their bold reportage on Chinese human rights issues, illicit organ harvesting in China, and corruption and misgovernment in China.
In particular, the Epoch Times editorial series, "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," which provides an honest account of the nature and history of the Chinese Communist Party, aroused the ill will of the Chinese communist regime. Since the publication of the "Nine Commentaries" 81 million Chinese have renounced any association with the Party.
After they were initially refused entry, Yang and his colleagues began rallying support: they contacted Consoli, who then called EU press service personnel. Then they went back, with two journalist peers, from Reuters and AP.
The AP and Reuters journalists were allowed to enter, but waited. When it came to Yang and his colleagues, they were again refused. “They thought it was incredible that they wouldn’t let us enter,” Yang said of the AP and Reuters reporters. “To our colleagues, this was not acceptable.
“We had accredited badges, we are free to enter the European Commission, Council, and Parliament for press events,” Yang said.
He then began citing the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights to the security guards, which says “The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.” “I told them that they were violating this by blocking us.”
Finally, they were allowed to enter.
Nicolas Kerleroux, head of the European Council’s press office, later apologized to Yang for the delay.
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