APEC organizers expel two reporters from U.S. company with Falun Gong ties

BUSAN, South Korea — Two reporters with a U.S.-based Chinese television company known for its coverage of Chinese government human rights abuses were kicked out of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Tuesday for breaking the meeting’s media rules, an official said.

One of the journalists, who work for New Tang Dynasty Television, alleged that their expulsion was the result of Chinese government pressure, a charge APEC organizers denied.

Chang Sik Lee, a Seoul-based reporter with New York-based NTDTV, said he was told to turn in his pass and leave the exhibition center serving as the meeting’s main venue after he and a colleague attempted to cover a bilateral meeting between South Korea and China.

Organizers told Chang and his colleague that they had violated the rules by not pre-registering for the event. Other journalists present who had also not preregistered were not asked to leave.

“This is just an excuse, the real reason is the Chinese Communist Party is afraid of our media, so they want to expel us from the whole APEC conference,” Chang said.

NTDTV, which was founded in 2001, has been denounced by Chinese authorities as a mouthpiece for the Falun Gong spiritual movement which Beijing has tried to shut down as a dangerous cult. The TV station insists it is independent, although many of its staffers are Falun Gong practitioners.

Chang said both he and his colleague, Choi Seon Hee, practice Falun Gong.

“Their appearance at the (meeting) venue upset everyone who had organized this huge event,” said Cho Wonhyung, director general of APEC’s media and communications department.

Cho said NTDT was “closely related to Falun Gong, which always does some demonstrations.”

Asked whether the two were asked to leave because of their association with Falun Gong or because of pressure from the Chinese delegation, Cho said: “They made a very big mistake…there is no other reason.”

Earlier this year, the International Federation of Journalists accused leading satellite operator Eutelsat of bowing to pressure from Beijing when it refused to renew a contract allowing NTDT to broadcast into China. The media watchdog said Beijing had warned that business opportunities linked to broadcasting 2008 Olympics would might be at risk, a claim that Eutelsat denied.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
AP, via NewsDay.com, USA
Nov. 15, 2005
Alexa Olesen
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday November 15, 2005.
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