The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum have written to the Chinese government about international standards of press freedom in the country.
Laws in China restricting foreign journalists were temporarily relaxed during the Olympic Games in Beijing and have recently been extended by authorities.
In a letter dated October 21, WAN wrote to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in an attempt to change the laws permanently:
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to welcome the extension of the relaxation in media regulations, but also to call on you to take further steps to uphold international standards of press freedom.
In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, your government introduced new rules that allowed foreign journalists greater freedom to travel in the country without prior government permission and to talk to anyone who was willing to be interviewed. Those regulations were set to expire on 17 October, however, shortly before they expired new regulations were introduced that recognise these rights.
While welcoming the extension of the more relaxed regulations for foreign journalists, we are concerned that they do not extend to domestic journalists and that many fundamental rights necessary for the proper functioning of a free press are not observed. For example, there is no protection of news sources, it is not possible to report freely on Tibet and hotels are obliged to report the arrival of a foreign journalist to police. Furthermore, with more than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters imprisoned, China jails more journalists than any other.
We respectfully call on you to extend the relaxed regulations to domestic journalists, to introduce further reforms so that your country might fully respect international standards of press freedom, and to ensure that all
those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released from prison.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers
World Editors Forum