What press freedom conditions can journalists and sports writers expect when they go to China to cover the 2008 Summer Olympics? An international conference designed to answer their questions, and to examine the methods that China uses to control the press, will be held in Paris next month, 18 –19 April 2008.
The conference, organised by a coalition of press freedom groups including the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), the World Press Freedom Committee, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights in China and Asia Presse, is intended to provide expert insight on the press freedom conditions that journalists – particularly sports journalists – will encounter in China.
China and foreign news media
A session on how China deals with foreign news media will feature Yuwen Wu, news editor of the BBC China Service; Joceyln Ford, chair of the Media Freedoms Committee at the Foreign Correspondents Club of China; and Fan Ho Tsai, chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
Other sessions will examine press freedom and the Beijing Olympics, how the Chinese news media is controlled, what reporting conditions can be expected for the Olympics, the risks, opportunities and responsibilities involved with trading with China, and the limits and the freedoms surrounding China's Internet.
Other confirmed speakers include:
- Ching Cheong, the first Hong Kong journalist convicted and jailed for spying since Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Cheong, the chief correspondent for China for the Singapore Straits Times, was sentenced to five years in prison in April 2005 and released last month following international pressure ahead of the Olympics. He denies he ever spied against China.
- Gao Yu, a freelance Chinese journalist and laureate of the WAN Golden Pen of Freedom and the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. She will speak in the session on how China controls media along with Ching and Agnes Gaudu, the China press specialist with the French magazine Courrier International, and Bob Dietz, the Asia programme director for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
- Paul Steiger, former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, who will be joined in the session on press freedom and the Beijing Olympics by Henrikas Yushkiavitshus, who was in charge of press arrangements from the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
- Vincent Brossel, head of the Asia desk for Reporters Without Borders, who will speak in the session on reporting conditions in China.
- Peter Scheer, head of the California First Amendment Coalition and Greg Walton, an expert on internet security technology with Open Flows, who will speak in the session on trading with China.
- Watson Meng, the founding editor of the Boxun News website, and Yu Zhang, the coordinator of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, who will speak in the session on China's Internet.
The conference has been made possible by a generous grant from the John S and James L Knight Foundation. There is no charge for attending the conference, which will be held at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris. The evolving conference programme may be found at www.beijing2008conference.com/home.php
The conference is to be introduced by Professor Merle Goldman of Harvard and Boston Universities, a leading authority and prolific writer on civic rights in China.