May 26, 2015

Nearly all foreign correspondents reporting from China say that the country’s working conditions fail to meet international standards, according to a report released Tuesday by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.

According to the report, which was based on a survey of 120 members of the correspondents’ club, 96 percent of respondents say that working conditions are “almost never” on par with conditions elsewhere around the globe. Nearly half (44 percent) said conditions in the country held steady compared to last year and a third said they worsened from year to year:

China’s importance in current affairs continues to grow, and foreign journalists’ efforts to chronicle the important events and changes have kept pace. Unfortunately, getting access to the news in China is not getting any easier. Official harassment, obstruction and intimidation of foreign correspondents and their local staff remain serious problems.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, which is based in Beijing, comprises more than 200 members that hail from 35 countries and regions, according to the report. The organization releases a survey on the working conditions in the country annually.

Among the report’s findings:

  • 72 percent of respondents said their reporting was hindered by authorities or “unidentified individuals” while working in the country.
  • 31 percent of respondents said that their Chinese assistants had been harassed.
  • 25 percent of respondents said that their sources faced reprisal for providing them information.
  • 22 percent of respondents said that Chinese authorities were applying pressure to their editors overseas.
  • 10 reporters said that Chinese authorities threatened to revoke or fail to renew their visas because of their reporting.
  • The report is the latest in a series of dispatches from China that describe an adversarial climate for reporters working in the country. In March, the correspondents’ club released a survey showing that although it was getting easier to obtain a visa, Chinese officials were “continuing to abuse the press card and visa renewal process.” Late last year, a report from the correspondents’ club painted “a portrait of mounting pressure on foreign journalists” in the midst of a government crackdown.

    Correction: This story has been updated to reflect new information from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, which on Wednesday sent out a clarification notifying recipients that only 120 of the 210 correspondents surveyed responded.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

More News

Back to News