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Reporters' Guide to China Olympics

June 29, 2008

Handbook for Journalists New to Beijing

*** Media Advisory ***
Human Rights Watch
June 27, 2008

(New York, June 27, 2008) -- Human Rights Watch is publishing a
pocket guide for reporters planning to travel to China to cover the
Beijing Olympics. Produced with the support of the Committee to
Protect Journalists, the Reporters' Guide to Covering the Beijing
Olympics addresses how to report in a largely closed country, with
particular attention to the hazards facing Chinese sources and news assistants.

An estimated 25,000 foreign journalists will cover the Beijing Games.
This guide spells out both their rights – in particular under the
Chinese government's temporary regulations for foreign journalists –
and the risks they or their Chinese contacts may face. The Reporters'
Guide is also downloadable online at no cost at, and will also soon be available in French,
German, Spanish, and Japanese.

"Many of the journalists heading to Beijing are veteran sports and
Olympics reporters, but the environment in China poses unique
challenges," said Minky Worden, media director at Human Rights Watch
and editor of China's Great Leap
(, a new collection of essays
on China and the Olympics. "Journalists will encounter extensive
government surveillance, internet censorship, and serious risks to
Chinese fixers and sources."

The promise of human rights improvements was a central plank of
Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympics, after its failure
to win the 2000 Summer Games. The Chinese government pledged full
press freedom to journalists planning to cover the Games. "We will
give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China,"
said Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympics organizing
committee, in 2001.

Yet China remains the world's leading jailer of journalists, censors
the internet, and retaliates against Chinese citizens thought to be
sources for stories critical of the government.

Designed as a "survival guide" for reporters new to China, the handbook covers:

* Risks and Rights: an overview of both the risks faced by reporters
and their rights, in particular under the temporary regulations for
foreign journalists;

* Outside the Arena: important but sensitive human rights topics and
the Chinese government's legal tools to prevent and punish such coverage;

* Security, Surveillance and Safety: tips on countering censorship,
and dealing with the police in problematic situations;

* Protecting Your Chinese Contacts: how not to endanger sources and
news assistants;

* The Great Firewall: internet censorship and tips to counter it; and,

* Practical Information: an appendix listing useful numbers and
websites as well as a bilingual (English/Chinese) version of the
temporary regulations (which can be shown, for example, to officials
questioning a reporter in the field).

Human Rights Watch is releasing the Reporters' Guide six months to
the day after the December 27, 2007, detention of human rights
advocate Hu Jia, who was sentenced on April 3 to three and a half
years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power." The charges
were based on five articles Hu wrote and two interviews he gave to
foreign media, in part on human rights abuses in China in the context
of the Beijing Games.

"We hope that reporters headed to Beijing will do their best to tell
the complex story of life in China today, including the important
human stories beyond the sports arenas," said Worden. "The key to
covering China effectively without jeopardizing your staff, your
sources, and yourself, is to be prepared and informed. We hope this
guide will help."

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch (English,
Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In New York, Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch (English, Cantonese):
+1-212-216-1250; or +1-917-497-0540 (mobile)
In New York, Bob Dietz, Committee to Protect Journalists (English):
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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