According to the Hong Kong daily, Wen Wei Po, over 30 reporters from Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries are to be admitted to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region to cover the post-riot situation in the city. They will be the first non-mainland journalists allowed into Lhasa since the March 14 riot. The three-day trip organized by the Information Office of the State Council will begin on the afternoon of March 26 when the first group of 17 journalists arrives in Lhasa.
Reporters have been invited from nine overseas media groups, namely, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, Itar-Tass, Kyodo News Agency, Lianhe Zaobao and KBS World TV, five Hong Kong media groups, namely, TVB, Ming Pao, South China Morning Post, Wen Wei Po and Phoenix Satellite Television and three Taiwan media groups, namely, the CNA, United Daily News and ETTV. The organizers want the reporters to witness first-hand what the rioters did to Lhasa.
At the regular press conference held on March 25, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang also referred to arrangements for reporters to visit post-riot Lhasa. He said the government had organized the trip in response to concerns raised by the foreign media. The organizers will arrange for reporters to visit damaged buildings, witnesses and victims. The government hopes the visit will give the media a more truthful and objective picture of the violent and brutal incidents that took place in Lhasa, Qin said. He added that although their security will be ensured by the authorities, the reporters should take care, as some criminals are still at large.
Qin said that it was reasonable and lawful for the Chinese government to restrict access to Tibet after rioters stormed the city. He said the measures were taken not only to maintain social order but also for the safety of foreign reporters.
Since only a few non-mainland media organizations have been invited to take part in the trip, many reporters raised questions about the selection criteria. Qin did not give a direct response but said other reporters would probably get their chance to visit Lhasa next time.
(China.org.cn by Pang Li, March 26, 2008)