Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China to loosen limits on journalists from Taiwan

STAFF WRITER , WITH AP, BEIJING

China said yesterday that Tai-wanese reporters covering the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics would be able to operate under relaxed reporting rules similar to ones announced earlier for foreign media, theoretically giving them greater freedom to travel and report.

Li Weiyi (李維一), spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said that starting Jan. 1, Taiwanese journalists would be able to interview individuals or visit organizations and would need only to obtain their prior consent.

Taiwanese journalists will also be able to hire local Chinese to assist them in their reporting, Li said at a regular news conference in Beijing.

The new regulations abolish rules requiring Taiwanese reporters obtaining government approval for all travel and interviews.

Like regulations already issued for foreign journalists reporting on the Olympics, the rules for Taiwanese journalists will be in force from Jan. 1 to Oct. 17, 2008.

At the same news conference, Li slammed President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for his "pro-independence stance."

Responding to a question on recent comments by Chen that exchanges across the Taiwan Strait had increased since he was first elected, Li said Chen's ``stubborn adherence'' to independence for Taiwan since he was first elected six years ago has hampered relations.

"Chen Shui-bian's stubborn adherence to Taiwan independence for the last six years has consistently provoked confrontation between the mainland and Taiwan," Li said.

The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday said Beijing's claim was a "deliberate scheme aimed at misleading the public."

The council said that Beijing had exposed the fact that the Chinese authorities were not familiar with nor respected freedom of the press.

"In their policy, there is no such thing as press freedom because they tightly control both the local and international media," the council said in a statement issued last night.

Beijing's restrictions on press freedom have drawn international concern and criticism, the statement added, noting that a media watch group, Reporters without Borders, had placed China sixth from the bottom on a list of countries ranked in terms of press freedom.

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