U.S. voices concern over harassment of media covering China floods

The United States is “deeply concerned with the increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of U.S. and other foreign journalists” covering recent floods in China’s Henan province, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.

China’s harsh rhetoric toward news it perceives as critical “has provoked negative public sentiment leading to tense, in-person confrontations and harassment” of journalists, Price said in a statement. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Tuesday that journalists from several media outlets covering recent floods in China were harassed online and by local residents, with staff from the BBC and Los Angeles Times receiving death threats.

China’s new ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, on Wednesday wished the United States victory against COVID-19 and said great potential awaited bilateral relations, striking an optimistic tone as he arrived at his new post amid deeply strained ties.

Qin’s arrival comes days after high-level talks in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and senior Chinese diplomats ended with both sides signaling that the other must make concessions for ties to improve.

“We call on the PRC to act as a responsible nation hoping to welcome foreign media and the world for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Price said.