VOA reporters have been trying unsuccessfully to get into Tibet to report on the latest disturbances --- even after authorities in Beijing notified foreign journalists in the Chinese capital that they would not approve any applications to go there.
Journalists who were in Tibet when the protests erupted have been expelled. Those who have tried to get close to Tibet are running into major interference.
A VOA Mandarin Service correspondent was stopped by armed security forces when he attempted to enter Tibet to report on developments there. This VOA reporter was actually on a bus heading into the restive area when police boarded the vehicle and checked the identification documents of all those on board. When they saw the VOA reporter’s US passport they told him to get off the bus and turn back. They also deleted the photographs in his digital camera showing checkpoints and security forces.
Chinese authorities are hinting at a trip to Tibet for foreign reporters once the situation has stabilized. VOA has put in its name to go along if the trip ever happens, even though we suspect such a trip, organized by the Chinese government, will likely be a tightly-controlled, stage-managed event.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the Chinese government to halt its efforts to block both domestic and foreign coverage of protests in Tibet. CPJ says actions taken so far contravene media regulations enacted last year that were designed to allow greater freedom to foreign journalists in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.
CPJ says, “As part of its successful 2001 bid to host the Olympics, the government pledged to the International Olympic Committee that it would respect media freedom, but Beijing has failed to live up to that promise.”
The Voice of America has responded to the crisis in Tibet by increasing its broadcasts to the region to six hours daily via shortwave and by doubling its weekly Tibetan-language television programming from one to two hours via the AsiaSat 3 satellite.