Fearing Independent Chinese Press, China Cancelled EU-China Summit Press Conference

October 8, 2010 8:43 pm Last Updated: October 10, 2010 1:44 pm

A customary press conference at the end of the EU-China summit was cancelled by the Chinese delegation on Oct. 6, after EU officials refused to ban entry to independent Chinese journalists, including a reporter from The Epoch Times.

A European Union (EU) official speaking on conditions of anonymity confirmed to reporters on Friday that the Chinese delegation, headed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, refused to attend the conference as long as independent Chinese journalists would be at the press conference and allowed to ask questions.

“These Chinese independent journalists had the accreditation cards, so they had the right to be in. Finally the council let them in, and the Chinese clearly refused to have the press conference, running the risk that some independent Chinese journalists would ask a question,” said Lorenzo Consoli, President of the International Press Association (IPA) in Brussels, at a European Commission press briefing in Brussels on Oct. 8. 

“Independent journalists should always be allowed into press conferences and European press services should never ever allow authoritarian regimes to dictate the policy on access to journalists,” Consoli said in an IPA statement published later that day.

Lixin Yang, a long-term reporter on European Union affairs with the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, Wen Luo and Xiuhua Sun with New Tang Dynasty Television, and Xiaoyan Song with Sound of Hope radio, were initially denied entry to the European Council building where the press conference was to be held ostensibly because of “security reasons.” Later, they were allowed in, but the press conference was promptly canceled ostensibly due to scheduling delay.

Beijing opposes the media companies because of their bold reportage on Chinese human rights issues, illicit organ harvesting in China, and corruption and misgovernment in China.

Consoli told The Epoch Times that the International Press Association considers proposing that in the future the journalist-organization will be involved in monitoring the security checks, “to check whether the claims of security risk coming from the foreign delegations about some particular people or journalists are founded or not.”

After the Chinese delegation pulled out of the press conference, EU officials cancelled the conference altogether, because holding it without the Chinese “would have overshadowed the whole summit,” according to an EU official speaking anonymously to Deutsche Press-Agentur.

“It is necessary in the future, that the EU, at its highest level, clarifies in advance to its partner's countries, especially if they are authoritarian regimes, that bilateral summits held on European soil, must always schedule a final press conference with the presence of the leader's country guest,” vice-president of European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, said in a statement on Oct. 7.

Pittella also said that at such press conferences the European Union alone regulates the entrance of journalists and that no discrimination of any kind is allowed.

Lixin Yang, the Epoch Times reporter, had planned to ask Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premiere, about his recently much-touted concept of political reform. Specifically, he said he had planned to ask what is included in the political reform, and if the reform contains democracy, freedom, and human rights.