Foreign journalists covering floods in China are being criticized and harassed by residents and those using social media. Some have received death threats.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said reporters from news organizations like the BBC, CNN and the Los Angeles Times have received negative comments and messages from residents and those online. The group said there was growing hostility toward the foreign media fueled by "official bodies."
Some news companies have fired back at the China government for allowing the attacks.
"There must be immediate action by the China government to stop these attacks which continue to endanger foreign journalists," the BBC said in a post on its official Twitter account.
According to the correspondents' club, some reporters were followed and harassed by members of government-led organizations. A BBC reporter was hounded by members of a local branch of the ruling Communist Party's Youth League. Members of that organization had published a post on social media asking followers to trace the movements of the reporter, the correspondents' club said.
"Rhetoric from organizations affiliated with China's ruling Communist Party directly endangers the physical safety of foreign journalists in China and hinders free reporting," the correspondents' club said.
Reporters Without Borders said some members of the foreign press had been confronted by angry crowds while locals helping them have been branded "traitors." The nonprofit organization said several foreign correspondents had received threats of violence or death.
8/ The FCCC is disappointed and dismayed at the growing hostility against foreign media in China, a sentiment underpinned by rising Chinese nationalism sometimes directly encouraged by Chinese officials and official entities. — Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (@fccchina) July 27, 2021
John Sudworth, a BBC journalist, was forced to leave the country after allegedly receiving threats of legal action for obstruction of justice and intimidation. China denied it threatened the journalist.
The floods in China's Henan province have been extensively covered. At times stories mentioned the government's lack of preparedness. As of Wednesday, the death toll was 71 people.
The foreign ministry called reports made by overseas organizations "fake news." Other government groups accused international reporters of disinformation, rumor-mongering and slander.