Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) has protested against the arrest and deportation of Canadian journalist Jiang Xueqin, who was covering demonstrations by workers in the north-east of China. "Having prevented foreign and Chinese journalists from covering the AIDS epidemic in Henan, the Beijing authorities are now imposing a news blackout on another sensitive issue. While a number of workers’ representatives have recently been put behind bars, it is now a question of silencing all those who try to report on their struggle," stated Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuang, the organisation for the defence of press freedom calls for the restrictions on the activities of foreign journalists working in China to be lifted. "This incident is yet another example of the numerous difficulties encountered by foreign correspondents working for the international media, who have to brave all kinds of pressure, violence and surveillance," added Mr Ménard.
According to information obtained by the organisation, freelance journalist Jiang Xueqin was expelled from China on 5 June 2002, having been detained for two days in Daqing (Heilongjiang Province, in the north-east of the country). He was covering a workers’ demonstration for the Public Broadcasting Service, a television channel partly funded by the American government, when he was arrested for "making illegal video recordings". According to a friend, he was carrying a video camera at the time and has been accused of spying. A Canadian embassy spokeswoman affirmed that the police had given no reason for Jiang Xueqin’s deportation. Apparently no charges have been brought against the reporter. Back in Toronto, Jiang Xueqin refused to give any details about his detention. "I cannot talk about my experience right now but plan to at a future date," he said.
Jiang Xueqin, who was born in Guangdong province, had returned to Beijing where he lived and worked for two years as a freelance journalist. An expert on social problems in China, he has written articles for the American magazine Christian Science Monitor and the Hong Kong weekly Far Eastern Economic Review.