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Cablegate: U.S.-Based Committee to Protect Journalists Chides

VZCZCXRO3370
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #5142/01 2191149
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071149Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0547
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 005142

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP AND DRL
NSC FOR ABRAMS/WILDER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SOCI KCUL KOLY CH
SUBJECT: U.S.-BASED COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS CHIDES
CHINA AND IOC IN BEIJING PRESS CONFERENCE


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ) held a press conference in Beijing on August 7 to
announce the release of a report highly critical of China's
record on press freedom in advance of the Olympic Games. The
press conference proceeded smoothly without incident, in
contrast to a similar event held the day before by Reporters
Without Borders (RSF), which reportedly resulted in the
detention of several RSF representatives afterward. At
today's event, CPJ officials focused on China's failure to
live up to its pledge made to the IOC in 2001 that there
would be "no restrictions on media reporting and movement of
journalists up to and including the Olympic Games." Despite
the "very laudable" January 2007 liberalization of rules
governing foreign reporters in China, CPJ emphasized the
dangers that PRC reporters still face, pointing to the 29
Chinese journalists currently behind bars. The International
Olympic Committee (IOC) was also criticized by CPJ for not
applying sufficient pressure on the Chinese Government to
implement its commitments on press freedom. End Summary.

Press Conference Held Without Incident
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ) held a press conference at a Beijing hotel on August 7
to announce the release of, "Falling Short," its highly
critical report of China's record on press freedom in advance
of the Olympic Games. CPJ Board Chairman and Wall Street
Journal Editor-at-large Paul Steiger, CPJ Asia Program
Coordinator Bob Dietz and CPJ Asia Program Senior Researcher
Kristin Jones read prepared statements and took questions
before a crowd of approximately 75 people. The press
conference proceeded smoothly without incident, in contrast
to a similar event held the day before by Reporters Without
Borders (RSF), which according to Reuters and the RSF website
resulted in the detention of several RSF representatives
afterward. In response to a reporter's question, Bob Dietz
said he was unaware whether the CPJ press conference was
"legal" but stated his satisfaction with the "unexpectedly
large" turnout and lack of interference by Chinese officials
who were rumored to be present. (Note: A Reuters
correspondent told Poloff he could identify at least one MSS
officer who was present at the event.)

CPJ Harshly Criticizes Chinese Press Restrictions
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (SBU) CPJ officials focused on China's failure to live up
to its pledge made to the IOC in 2001 that there would be "no
restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists
up to and including the Olympic Games." Paul Steiger was
skeptical of a reporter's suggestion that continued
development of the Internet would lead to a freer flow of
information in China, saying that the Government has proven
itself capable of controlling and restricting broad Internet
activity, with the help of companies like Yahoo! and Google.
Asked if CPJ had held discussions with any PRC Government
departments before releasing the report, Dietz said that a
recent request for a meeting with the Beijing Organizing
Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) had gone
unanswered.

4. (SBU) Despite the "very laudable" January 2007
liberalization of the rules governing foreign reporters in
China, CPJ officials emphasized the dangers that PRC
reporters still face, with Kristin Jones calling attention to
the 29 Chinese journalists currently behind bars and
asserting that the circumstances under which journalists
operate outside China's "major urban areas" such as Beijing
and Shanghai were much worse due to the "arbitrary powers" of
local authorities. Dietz summarized the report's list of
recommendations for the Chinese Government, the IOC and
foreign journalists working in China. Among the
recommendations for the PRC Government, Dietz stressed that
Beijing must release the 29 jailed reporters, allow Chinese
journalists to enjoy the same freedoms granted to foreign
reporters, cease using "state security" charges to intimidate
journalists and abide by Article 19 of the United Nations'
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects media
freedoms and to which China is a signatory.

IOC Also Responsible
--------------------


BEIJING 00005142 002 OF 002


5. (SBU) Dietz was also critical of the IOC's insufficient
pressure on China to meet its "pledges" on media freedom in
the run up to the Olympics, stating that both the IOC and the
Chinese Government are responsible for the lack of progress.
One of the report's recommendations calls on the IOC to
ensure that Beijing meets "international standards" for press
freedoms. Steiger stressed that China is fully capable of
meeting press freedom requirements, declaring that "if (the
Chinese) want it done, they will make it happen."
RANDT

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