Reporters Without Borders Visits China

January 29, 2007 Updated: January 29, 2007

PARIS—Recently, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the human rights organization known for defending freedom of the press around the world, was for the first time able to make an official visit to China. According to RSF Asian affairs lead, Mr. Vincent Brossel, who himself had just returned from China, RSF had held talks with the Chinese communist regime. They raised the issue of press freedom and suggested ways to improve it. Beijing said the authorities would consider these issues in exchange for the temporary halt of a boycott against the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. But Mr. Brossel stressed that if Beijing does not fulfill its promises, the RSF will resume the boycott.

“We submitted a list of 80 prisoners' names, mainly journalists and cyber-dissidents and demanded their release,” Brossel told the reporter. “We also requested visiting rights to these prisoners. Our third demand is frequent and serious talks with the Chinese regime. Also we urged the Chinese authorities to revoke its suppressive restrictions of the Internet.”

Among the 80 people, Brossel particularly mentioned Internet users who downloaded or spread information about Falun Gong, Tibet, Xinjiang Province (a province with high population of Chinese Muslims) and Christianity, and promised to make every possible effort to restore their freedom. The RSF demanded the Chinese regime give substantial feedback.

To pursue a constructive conversation, the RSF agreed to halt the boycott against the Beijing Olympic Games. But if Beijing would not keep its promise, the boycott would be resumed.

Brossel said, “It is clear to us that the conversation does not mean we gave up our right to criticize the regime. Our annual report, news releases, activities and our voiced support to journalists and dissidents will reveal to the world what are happening in China. We will always stand on the side of democracy, not dictators.”

Brossels also said that the RSF will watch over the freedom of international journalists during the Olympic Games in China. The RSF also reminded Beijing not to break the new regulations that promise to allow more freedom to foreign journalists working in China that took effect on January 1, 2007.

The Chinese government did not allow RSF to visit the imprisoned journalists, but RSF said they would continue requesting to see the detainees.