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SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s freedoms of speech, expression and access to information were challenged yesterday when Chinese officials barred both PNG and non-Chinese media from attending meetings at three APEC venues.

It began in parliament when Chinese president Xi Jinping was giving an address after a guard of honour. 

EMTV journalist Theckla Gunga who was assigned to cover the president’s visit reported that just after 11am Chinese officials accompanying the president ordered the microphones removed from a speaker next to which they had been placed to record the speeches.

“Chinese officials who are organising the official opening of the Chinese-funded six-lane road have refused to give audio feeds to media personnel,” Gunga wrote in a WhatsApp message. “Microphones belonging to both local and international media have been removed.”

The officials allowed Chinese state owned broadcaster CCTV to record Xi Jinping’s speech. Gunga and other journalists spent about 10 minutes arguing with the Chinese officials but were still refused.

One hour later, EMTV Online reporter Merylyn Diau-Katam faced another group of Chinese officials at the gate of a Chinese government funded school.

“Before the president arrived a bus full of Chinese media personnel were driven into the gate on a bus,” she said. “And when we wanted to go in, we were told our names were not on the list even though we had APEC accreditation passes.

“No media. No media,” a Chinese official said.

Diau-Katam was not the only one refused entry.  In the group was a photographer from Japanese public broadcaster, NHK, and other media.  A PNG government official also spent several minutes arguing with the Chinese security to let him in.

At 5pm on Friday, Chinese officials again booted out local and international media from a meeting between the Chinese president and Pacific Island country leaders.

EMTV anchor and senior journalist Meriba Tulo was among others told to “get out” of the meeting while Chinese media were allowed into the room.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation was also told to leave. And Post Courier senior journalist Gorethy Kenneth said Chinese officials from Beijing were initially angry with the presence of international media.

“I said: ‘We are here to cover the meeting, our names have been submitted.’ And they said: ‘No, all of you get out,'” Kenneth said.

Comments

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Paul Oates

As one astute person observed about the fracas when members of the Chinese delegation gate-crashed the PNG foreign minister in his office - "You don't shove a man from Wapenamanda around too easily."

Paul Oates

Chinese diplomacy Mk2 - https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-18/chinese-officials-create-diplomatic-storm-at-apec/10508812

Not a great way to win friends and influence them. This just underscores my previous comment.

I'd hate to be in these blokes shoes come the eventual 'wash up' if it was just a 'flash in the pan' impulsive move. The situation will no doubt be discussed behind closed doors but maybe it depends on who is responsible and what impression they really wanted to convey?

Paul Oates

Daniel - The answer is perfectly clear to anyone who has studied how an authoritarian regime works. Whether President Xi ordered the expulsion of national reporters or not is immaterial.

The policy of preventing potentially adverse articles being published by any non-state controlled media must be upheld at any cost. Chinese media are the only source of official information the Chinese people are allowed to see and it must be always in a good and positive light.

The only way that can happen is very tight control. This is just an example of what can happen when a free society bows to external pressure and allows another regime with different values to take over.

To look at this in a negative way means that the overall lesson can be lost in the indignant feelings being felt at the time.

The Chinese media are merely doing what they have been trained to do and will be held responsible and accountable if they allow any stuff ups.

Daniel Doyle

'....a Chinese government funded school'. Some relevant questions:

How has it been funded, by loan or direct grant? Will it be a registered or permitted member school of the National Education System? How will staff be appointed? Will they be registered with the Teaching Service Commission for payment of salaries? Will they be on the same salary scales as teachers in registered schools?

On a recent visit I sighted wonderful buildings but no sign of teaching and learning materials, who will fund them?

Who will fund the care and maintenance of the buildings and grounds of such a huge campus? Based on such costs for a well maintained but much smaller private school, costs could be in the region of K1 million per annum.

So many questions and so little public information. Chinese openness, anyone?

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