Media censorship worsened last year in China, while press freedom also deteriorated in Hong Kong and Macau, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
In China, frontline journalists were subjected to physical harassment, especially when reporting on man-made disasters, the world journalist group said in its latest report.
It noted that authorities declared wide exclusion zones around the sites of tragedies, such as the cruise liner capsize on the Yangtze that killed 442 people in June.
In some cases, police intimidated witnesses to prevent them from speaking to the media, while in other instances locals were encouraged to harass or attack journalists, it said.
In its annual China Press Freedom Report, the IFJ expressed concern about refusal of visa renewals and detention of some foreign journalists.
“Most concerning was the refusal by the Government to renew a press card for a French journalist due to an article she published about human rights violations in Xinjiang,” it said.
“Two Japanese journalists were detained for espionage. A German journalist left the country after being accused of spying and her assistant was detained for eight months without charge.”
The report, meanwhile, also highlighted the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers who had been publishing titles critical of Beijing.
In other Hong Kong-related cases, the IFJ expressed concern over a court injunction against the broadcast of speeches secretly recorded at a controversial Hong Kong University Council meeting.
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