Police in Beijing earlier this month visited the home of one of the Spanish daily ABC’s correspondents and issued a “veiled intimidation,” American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) reported.
According to jouJaime Santirso, police visited his Beijing home on the eve of the National People’s Congress, the most important political event of the year in China. Santirso was not at home when the police visited. However, he said they spoke with his wife.
“Very kindly, they [the police] said that they wanted me to do balanced coverage of the [congress], with not only bad news but good news. A while later, they left,” Santirso said in a Twitter thread.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ employed by China toward Spanish journalists and said the country shows a well-known pattern of intimidation toward foreign media.
“The IFJ has documented a clear pattern of harassment or intimidation of journalists from countries that do not follow in step with China’s line, particularly on any sensitive topics. It is this type of intimidation that has forced other correspondents to leave their posts or relocate,” Jane Worthington, IFJ’s regional director, told VOA.
“Wolf warrior diplomacy and pressure from the state, combined with outright blocking like this, is part of a strategy to control the media narrative and attack foreign journalists’ independence,” Worthington added.
According to rights groups, China is known to call journalists and media outlets to complain about coverage.
Last year, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China found that international journalists are facing “unprecedented hurdles” because of Beijing’s efforts to block and discredit independent reporting.”
“As the number of journalists forced out by the Chinese state grows due to excessive intimidation or outright expulsions, covering China is increasingly becoming an exercise in remote reporting,” the report added.