Hong Kong Reporters versus "Shameless" Xinjiang Government Officials

(Now TV in Cantonese, September 5, 2009)

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(TVB in Cantonese, September 5, 2009)

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(Now TV in Cantonese)

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(ATV HD Channel in Cantonese)

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(ATV in Cantonese)

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(TVB in Cantonese)

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(Apple Daily, in Cantonese)

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(South China Morning Post)  Tempers flare over beating of journalists    By Ng Tze-wei.  September 9, 2009.

The row between Xinjiang authorities and Hong Kong media continued to escalate yesterday, with mainland officials defending the beating of three Hong Kong journalists in Urumqi last week. Hong Kong television stations have rebutted the officials' defence as "factually incorrect".

Three Hong Kong journalists - TVB reporter Lam Tsz-ho, a TVB cameraman and a Now TV cameraman - were covering the aftermath of a mass protest by Han Chinese in Urumqi after a string of hypodermic-needle attacks, which the central government has blamed on Muslim separatists. They were pinned to the ground by People's Armed Police officers, kicked and punched before being tied up and taken away.

A top media official in Xinjiang expressed regret over the rough handling but said the three journalists were suspected of inciting a disturbance and that they had broken local regulations. "In the process [of detaining the trio], something we all didn't want to happen did happen, and we are deeply regretful about this incident," Xinjiang Information Office director Hou Hanmin said in a meeting with Hong Kong journalists in Urumqi.

Citing a police investigation, Hou said the journalists were found "giving orders" to protesters in Tianshan district. After the three had refused to present their journalist's licences to police, ignoring repeated requests from the police, they were detained. Two of them were then found to have been working without proper credentials, Hou said. "Of the three journalists, only one had a temporary press card that allowed him to conduct interviews in the city, but the other two didn't. They violated our regulations."

Since February, Beijing has required all Hong Kong journalists to apply for temporary reporting licences whenever they wish to report on the mainland. "Some media then irresponsibly hyped up the incident and some people made irresponsible comments without knowing what really happened," Hou said, adding that journalists "should not do anything that they are not authorised to do".

In response, TVB and Now TV issued statements yesterday saying their journalists were properly accredited. TVB said Hou's comments were "partial" and "factually incorrect". Now TV said Hou was "making up facts" and police had never asked for credentials.

The meeting between Hong Kong journalists and Urumqi officials yesterday was tense. The four media outlets whose journalists were beaten up or detained last week - TVB, Now TV, RTHK and Commercial Radio Hong Kong - were not invited to the meeting but showed up anyway. Commercial Radio reporter Yeung Tung-tat was asked to apologise after the meeting for shouting out: "The government is shameless."

Meanwhile, at the Foreign Ministry's regular press conference yesterday, spokeswoman Jiang Yu also stood by the actions of People's Armed Police officers. "During their handling of the emergency, I believe it was proper and necessary for the police to implement some contingency measures at the scene in accordance with the law," she said. "I hope reporters can co-operate and understand."

The beating drew sharp criticism from Hong Kong journalists and legislators, who were further enraged by the brief detention of five Hong Kong television and radio reporters in Urumqi on Sunday when they tried to interview people.


(Apple Daily)


Xinjiang official shameless

TVB News Department stated yesterday evening that they are extremely dissatisfied with the results of the investigation by the Xinjiang Government Information Office, which provided a one-sided explanation that was neither objective nor accurate.  TVB senior reporter Lam Tsz-ho and his cameraman Lau Wing-chuan both had temporary press passes issued by the Xinjiang Government Information Office.  Lam and Lau emphasized that the government workers never asked them for identification.  "When the armed police assaulted us, we showed them our press passes but they paid no attention."

Now TV News Channel stated yesterday that their reporter Lam Chun-wai held a Beijing correspondent pass and was therefore legally gathering news.  During the assault and arrest by the armed police, he stated repeatedly that he was a reporter but they ignored that.  With respect to the allegation that the reporters instigated the disturbances, the two channels emphasized that "this is completely fabricated with trumped up charges."  The two channels will complain to the central government and demand a full objective investigation.

(Apple Daily)  September 9, 2009.

"We have press passes.  You must not tell lies!"  At the press conference, Xinjiang Government Information Office director Hou Hanmin accused the Hong Kong reporters of instigating disturbances and not having press passes.  However, she did not produce any evidence.  The reporters at the scene got excited and cried aloud, "The government is shameless."  Reporters point out that "instigating disturbances" is a serious charge which requires hard evidence.  They were also unhappy that the authorities chose to selectively inform media organizations to attend this press conference.  TVB and Now TV whose reporters were involved in the incident last Friday were not notified to attend this press conference.  Neither were RTHK and Commercial Radio who reporters were also temporarily detained.

Hou Hanmin charged that the Hong Kong reporters "instigated disturbances."  The reporters immediately asked, "Is it right to beat people?  Is it right to beat Hong Kong reporters?"  Hou said that one must not listen to just a partial view.  She also said that as long as one obeys the law, there would not be anything that one would not want to see happen.  A reporter asked for proof that the reporters did not have press passes.  If there is proof, it should be displayed immediately otherwise the claim is a lie.  Hou lowered her head and said, "This was the result of our investigation."

As Hou Hanmin left, TVB reporter So King-hand went up and asked, "You beat up our reporters.  But when you call this press conference, how come you did not notify us?  What is the meaning of this?"  Hou replied, "Those who cared about this matter told us, so we notified those reporters who care about this matter."  The reporter asked, "But we care about it a lot too!"  He then asked whether anyone without a press pass will be beaten.  Hou Hanmin left immediately.

When the reporter asked whether the Government Information Office had any evidence and they wanted to see the video taken by the police at the scene, Hou Hanmin kept walking as if she heard nothing.  One reporter yelled out, "The government is shameless!"  Someone else yelled, "I saw them show their press passes at the scene that day!"  The scene got chaotic as some hotel workers grappled with the reporters.


(Ming Pao)  September 9, 2009.

Yesterday, our reporter was gathering the news in the streets of Urumqi.  At 5:13pm, he suddenly received a telephone call from the Xinjiang Government Information Office that there will be a press conference at 5:30pm.  By the time that many Hong Kong media got there, the press conference had already started.  The local media were already present.

When those reporters who were not notified got there after being told by their peers, they asked the authorities why the notices were out selectively.  They were also not happy with the distortions of facts.  They asked Xinjiang Government Information Office director Hou Hanmin: "What was the process of your investigation?  Apart from checking with the police, did you speak to the Hong Kong reporters.  Mao Zedong said, 'You have no right to speak if you have not done any investigation'!"

A reporter asked, "Our TV reporters were assaulted by you.  You hold a press conference and you don't notify us.  What is the meaning of this?  Is this being open?"  Hou Hanmin replied, "Those who cared about this matter used different channels to tell us that they care and therefore we notified those who cared.  You did not tell us that we care.  Therefore, we did not notice all the media to come."

This caused many reporters to be unhappy.  Someone yelled out loudly, "Lies!" and "The government is shameless!"  When foreign reporters found out about this, they said that this must be the most explosive press conference in Xinjiang.


(Oriental Daily)  September 9, 2009.

After Xinjiang Information Office director Hou Hanmin made her statement, the attending Hong Kong reporters were up at arms.  They immediately challenged the authorities to produce sufficient proof for the assertions.  But Hou Hanmin did not respond.  The reporters with the media organizations involved in the incident said that they had not been notified to attend this press conference.  So after the press conference, they protested to Hou Hanmin and chanted slogans out loud.

TVB is extremely dissatisfied with the investigation conducted by the Xinjiang authorities.  They pointed out that the investigation was factually inaccurate and they have lodged protests to demand a thorough investigation by the central government.  Now TV emphasized that Hou Hanmin fabricated the facts and trumped up charges.  They said that they will complain to the central government.


(Xinhua)  Xinjiang official says 'regretful' over row involving HK journalists.  September 8, 2009.

A top media official in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region expressed Tuesday regrets over an alleged beating of three Hong Kong journalists in the regional capital of Urumqi last week, but noted that they had violated local regulations.

"We are regretful over the incident," said Hou Hanmin, director of the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Information Office, during a meeting with a group of Hong Kong journalists who came to Urumqi to cover the aftermath of the riot on July 5. "Of the three journalists, only one had a temporary press card that allowed him to conduct interviews in the city, but the other two didn't have. They violated our regulations," she said.

After the July 5 riot in which 197 people were left dead and more than 1,600 others injured, local authorities stipulated that journalists who came to cover the incident should first obtain temporary press cards issued by the regional information office.

Citing an investigation about the alleged beating of the three journalists on Sept. 4, Hou said security personnel found some people were following and filming a group of demonstrators on a road in the city that afternoon, and suspected them of instigating the demonstrators when witnessing that they made profuse gestures before the demonstrators.

"Security personnel asked them to show ID cards and leave the scene, but they refused to do so and continued to film the protests among the demonstrators," Hou said. "Security personnel repeatedly asked them to leave but failed. Under such circumstances, they detained three of them," she said.

Hou did not specify whether a beating, as claimed by the three journalists, was involved in the detention process, but said "something that everybody doesn't want to see took place". She also criticized some unspecified media and individuals for making "irresponsible remarks" after the incident without knowledge of the truth of the fact.

But Hou also stressed local authorities would maintain the media openness policy that has been employed after the July 5 riot and security personnel would also provide protection for journalists who conduct interviews while complying with local regulations. "We reiterate here that journalists must abide by relevant laws and regulations, and refrain from doing anything that goes against their identity of being journalists," she added.