Beijing, Oct 18 : China has decided to continue with the relaxed rules for foreign journalists operating from the country. The relaxed rules which were temporarily adopted for the Beijing Games, allowed the foreign journalists to conduct interviews of individuals or organizations without prior permission from the local foreign affairs office.
The rules, adopted on January 1, 2007, were to expire yesterday, but they were re-implemented at late night press conference organized just 15 minutes before the expiry (of the temporary Olympic rules).
"The new rules follow the major principles and spirits of the media regulations introduced for the Beijing Olympics. In the form of a long-lasting law, the 23-item new rules make that temporary arrangement a standard practice. The new regulations are significantly different from those issued in 1990," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a late night press conference.
Foreign reporters wishing to interview organizations or individuals in China no longer need to be received and accompanied by the Chinese organizations, Xinhua quoted Liu as saying.
The new rules canceled an item in the old version that asked foreign reporters to get approval from the local government's foreign affairs department when they wanted to do reporting in the regions open to them. The new rules also lifted an item asking them to get approval from the Foreign Ministry when they wanted to visit the regions not open to them and register at the police.
"Foreign reporters still need to ask for permission to do reporting in Tibet and other areas that are off-limits to foreign reporters, like some military facilities," Liu said.
According to the new rules, permanent offices of foreign media and reporters can "temporarily" import, install and use radio communication devices for news reporting after gaining approvals from the Chinese government according to laws.
The new rules said: "China adopts a basic policy of opening up to the outside world, protects the lawful rights and interests of the permanent offices of foreign media organizations and foreign journalists in accordance with law, and facilitates their news coverage and reporting activities that are carried out according to law."
The rules also asked resident foreign reporters to apply for a press card to the Foreign Ministry or local foreign affairs departments within seven working days after their arrival in China. With press cards, they also need to get residency cards from the local police where they are to stay.
Press cards of those who stay in China for less than six months every year will be revoked, the document said. Resident foreign reporters or those for short-term news reporting in China shall apply a journalist visa.