Outcry as China stops Pacific journos questioning FM Wang

Journalists covering Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s tour of the Pacific said they have been blocked from filming or accessing events, and that not a single question has been allowed to be asked to the top diplomat.

The allegations raise serious press freedom concerns and alarm about the ability of Pacific journalists to do their jobs, particularly as the relationship between the region and China becomes closer, the Guardian reported.

Wang is midway through a marathon trip visiting eight countries in 10 days. He has held bilateral meetings in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji to date, with trips to Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste to come.

At each stop, Wang has signed bilateral deals but he is yet to take a single question from a Pacific journalist, who are instructed at the beginning of the press conferences that no questions will be permitted, the Guardian reported.

Lice Movono, a Fijian journalist who has written for the Guardian, said she witnessed multiple attempts by Chinese officials to limit journalists’ ability to cover the event.

“From the very beginning there was a lot of secrecy, no transparency, no access given.”

Movono said that media who had been granted permission to cover the visit, including her, had their media passes revoked without explanation, and that she and her camera operator were ordered by police to leave the lobby of the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, where they were set to film the beginning of the meeting between Wang and Fijian Prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, on Monday, the Guardian reported.

On Sunday, as the media set up to film the arrival of Wang at the Pacific Islands Forum building for a meeting with its secretary general, Henry Puna, the ABC was blocked from filming, despite having been given permission to do so.

The Pacific Islands Forum intervened to allow the filming to continue, but Movono said that Chinese officials stood in front of the camera, trying to block the shot.

She added that the joint press conference from Wang and Bainimarama on Monday afternoon was managed by Chinese officials.

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