Foreign reporters decry China's denial of access to media pools

© Kyodo News

An association of Beijing-based journalists expressed opposition Friday to China's selective denial of access to media pools, after a Japanese newspaper reporter was barred from covering a diplomatic event earlier this week.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said in a statement that it is "concerned to hear" that a reporter from the Sankei Shimbun was prevented from joining a media pool covering the start of talks between Chinese and Japanese senior foreign ministry officials on Wednesday.

"The right to decide which reporters make up the pool lies with the participating news organizations, not the hosts of the event. We hope the Chinese government can understand and accept these norms," the organization said.

At a press conference Thursday in Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "It is extremely regrettable that this kind of thing happened and we have lodged a protest to China."

Suga, the government's top spokesman, also said Japan believes that freedom of expression is a "universal value in the international community."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, meanwhile, told reporters later the same day, "We won't accept such an unreasonable protest."

"There are over 600 foreign correspondents in Beijing," Hua said. "Do you mean that we have to get these 600 correspondents all in for each and every diplomatic event?"

"The number of correspondents allowed in will be properly managed in light of the conditions of the event venues to ensure order and security," she said.

On Wednesday, Japanese media stationed in Beijing eventually decided to cancel the pool coverage of the talks between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba.

The Sankei Shimbun is a Japanese conservative daily that is critical of China.