China is turning hostile to foreign journalists who are putting their lives at risk while bringing the latest coverage of floods in different parts of the country. Several reports coming from China have brought to light the attack launched by some locals on foreign journalists trying to cover the aftermath of floods from the ground.
Journalists from international publications, including BBC, LA Times, and Deutsche Welle were cornered by the angry mob in Zhengzhou, who felt their coverage portrayed China in bad light. Two reporters in Henan had to face the rowdy behaviour of some locals when they were reporting about how the underground markets in the area were flooded and shopkeepers lost their assets.
In one video shared online, journalists can be seen being accused of "rumour mongering" and were eager to tell the foreigners off. The crowd was trying to attack the BBC reporters, and at one point, an angry local is seen pulling out a phone with a blurry screenshot of another white man and yelling "it's him."
"What I did not know at the time was that a manhunt was on after [Brant]," said DW's reporter Beolinger who was with BBC's Robin Brant when the attack happened. "There is a vicious campaign against the BBC News in nationalistic circles and state media."
Foreign journalists targeted in China
According to Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC), journalists are even receiving death threats for covering the recent floods in China. FCCC criticised the hostility and sought immediate action by the Chinese government to stop such attacks on foreign journalists. In fact, even local journalists working for international media have been accused of treason.
The FCCC even said that a local branch of CPC's Youth League had asked its followers to report whereabouts of a BBC reporter covering the floods.
"The harassment of foreign correspondents just doing their job—in this case reporting on the tragic floods in Zhengzhou—has reached intolerable proportions," said Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. "Chinese authorities need to ensure a safe environment for the press reporting on natural disasters or any other issue, whether it is Chinese or international reporters, especially in the run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February."
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not acknowledged or issued a statement in this regard.