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China apologises to foreign journalists -

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China apologises to foreign journalists

Broadcast: 05/08/2008

Reporter: Anne Barker

China has been forced to apologise to two Japanese journalists who claim they were beaten by police
while covering a terrorism attack in the country's north-west. The incident is just one of many to
mar the lead-up to Friday's opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: China has been forced to apologise to two foreign journalists who claim they
were beaten by Chinese police trying to suppress media coverage of a terrorism attack in the
country's north-west.

Muslim separatists threw hand grenades at local police, and used knives to kill 16 officers in the
remote Xinjiang Province. But when two Japanese reporters went to the province they say Chinese
police detained them and beat them.

The incident is just one of many to mar the lead-up to Friday's opening ceremony of the Olympic
Games in Beijing.

Anne Barker reports.

ANNE BARKER, REPORTER: It's not the image China wanted for the Olympic Games. Three days before the
opening ceremony, security is being ramped up all over Beijing to prevent a repeat of yesterday's
terror attack. Instead of athletes, China's Olympic venues are bristling with police and military.
Both Chinese and Olympic officials are giving assurances the games will be safe.

PETER MONTGOMERY, AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: This incident took place 4,000 kilometres away. In
case they were confused as to where the all the shooting and so on was going on.

ANNE BARKER: The attack by Muslim separatists in remote Xinjiang province left 16 police dead.
Chinese police have arrested at least two men.

But foreign reporters have been caught up in the crackdown. Two Nippon TV journalists from Japan
who'd gone to the province after the attack were arrested and beaten.

(Extract, Nippon TV)

SHINJI KATSUTA, NOPPON NETWORK NEWS (translated): The attack happened here, at the area covered by
vinyl sheet. I was covering some other reporters who were being interfered with by Chinese police.
I was pinned down by a couple of riot police and taken to their security compound. Then I was
forced to sit down and was beaten.

(End, extract, Nippon TV)

TAKAYOSHI SUZUKI, TOKYO SHIMBUN NEWSPAPER: We expressed our strong protest because he didn't carry
out any illegal behaviour. The Chinese Government has said that they welcome foreign journalists to
cover any stories.

ANNE BARKER: It's not the only unrest. In Beijing's Tiananmen Square, police clashed with
protesters who'd been evicted from their homes in the city's ancient alleyways or hutongs to make
way for commercial development. Entire communities have been levelled and thousands of families
forced out since Beijing won the games.

MA XIULAN, EVICTED RESIDENT (translated): The developers cannot take advantage of Olympics and
expect impunity for taking away my house.

MANDARIN LIU FUMEI, EVICTED RESIDENT (translated): We are not against the Olympics but they
shouldn't have destroyed my house, forcibly evicted me and left me homeless.

ANNE BARKER: But with the world's attention on the Games, nothing it seems will stop the Chinese
from celebrating. Dancers, even pandas, performed as the final leg of the torch relay began across
Sichuan province and ending at Chengdu, the provincial capital destroyed in the recent earthquake.

Locals there put aside their sorrow to cheer on the Olympic flame before it heads to Beijing's
Birds Nest stadium for Friday's opening ceremony. The capital was still shrouded in a white haze
today, but with a bit of luck the pollution will clear in time.

JACQUES ROGGE, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: We have very comprehensive plans together with
BOCOG (Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) to handle all these issues.

ANNE BARKER: And not all athletes are fazed by the haze. Australian shooters think it might even
give them the edge.

RUSSELL MARK, AUSTRALIAN SHOOTING TEAM: The smog actually helps us. The more the better for an old
guy like me, I can actually see those little orange discs a lot better in the sky.

ANNE BARKER: And there's one sport that won't be winning any medals. The perennial competition
between TV stations for the best coverage. Channel Seven has complained to Olympic officials,
alleging that Channel Nine has infringed its broadcast rights by filming Australian swimmers in a
venue it doesn't have official access to. Nine has promised not to air the footage.

Anne Barker, Lateline.