German journalists in China have outlined the numerous obstacles they face on a daily basis in a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, urging her to address the issue of reporting conditions during her upcoming visit to Beijing this week.
Merkel will arrive in China on Thursday for the second time this year to meet with Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao and co-chair the “Chinese-German intergovernmental consultations.”
Ahead of her arrival, German journalists have written a letter to the chancellor, explaining their “deteriorating situation” and requesting her assistance.
Some 26 correspondents signed the letter, which complained about Chinese authorities “wilfully obstructing” their work, by threatening not to renew visas, intimidating local assistants and putting pressure on interviewees to keep quiet.
"Long-term German correspondents who have been working in Beijing since the 1990’s have been observing a deterioration of the situation, even in comparison to the conditions then," noted the letter.
"Dear Chancellor Merkel, in the interest of good and fair reporting about China, we think it is necessary to discuss these issues at the highest governmental level.”
"We just request the same working conditions that Chinese journalists enjoy... in Germany."
The letter explained that the situation for German journalists has not improved since Merkel brought up the issue during the country’s first round of talks in June 2011, and highlighted a number of instances in which journalists have been obstructed by the Chinese authorities.
Harassment and intimidation
Reporters Without Borders ranks Chine 174th out of 179 on its annual World Press Freedom Index.
Earlier this month, the Foreign Correspondents’ Clubs of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong expressed concerns following a number of cases of harassment and intimidation towards journalists in the country.
In May, Al Jazeera closed their bureau in China after correspondent Melissa Chan became the first journalist to be expelled from the country since 1998.