Chinese Bank Staff Block Reporters From Covering Canadian Finance Minister’s Remarks

March 27, 2015 Updated: March 29, 2015

TORONTO—Staff working at an Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) event blocked and corralled two Chinese reporters and a cameraman attempting to cover a media availability with Finance Minister Joe Oliver on Monday, March 23. 

ICBC Canada, a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned ICBC,  was hosting a launch event for the Canadian Renminbi Clearing Centre & Trading Hub at the Toronto Convention Centre when the incident happened.

Oliver’s staff sent a press release alerting reporters to a media availability at the event, but when reporters from Epoch Times’ Chinese edition and NTD Television tried to attend, people working there denied the reporters entry and had men block them from trying to talk with the finance minister’s staff.

We couldn’t move, because those six guys surrounded us. So I couldn’t talk to anyone.
— Chinese Epoch Times reporter Becky Zhou

ICBC Canada marketing manager Cathy Dong initially told Epoch Times reporter Becky Zhou and NTD reporter Danielle Shi that they were not registered and could not enter the hall where the event was taking place. 

However, the notice from Oliver’s office did not request registration. 

Later, in a video-recorded interaction, another woman, ICBC Canada retail manager Iris Zhu, attempted to deny there was a media availability and then suggested the Chinese officials attending the event didn’t want the reporters there. 

“We still have Ambassador Luo attending. Consul Xue here will be attending. I think if they see you, they won’t be very happy,” she said.

Zhu and other staff working at the event told the reporters that as the hosts, it was their right to deny the reporters entry. Other reporters were able to attend without incident.

At one point Zhou attempted to speak with a western man attending the event, but ICBC staff physically blocked her from speaking to people. 

A group of six men eventually corralled the reporters into a corner away from the entrance to the room where the event was taking place. Zhou had attempted to speak to staff from the minister’s office in hopes of resolving the issue. One of the men told the reporters they were just following orders.

Around that time China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, arrived and other media approached him to ask questions and take pictures. Zhou attempted to do the same.

“I was in corner, I could not move out of the corner, they confined me in this corner and restricted my movement,” she said.

The same thing happened when she tried to walk to where the minister’s staff would be. 

“We couldn’t move, because those six guys surrounded us,” she said. “So I couldn’t talk to anyone.”

Oliver’s office was not aware of the incident. When made aware on March 27, Melissa Lantsman, Oliver’s director of communications, said she would look into it.

The Epoch Times newspaper and NTD Television are two of largest Chinese media outlets in North America and among the only major Chinese media that are fully independent of the Chinese regime.

ICBC Canada did not respond to questions on the incident by publication time.