As The Guardian reported, from touring eight Pacific countries, Beijing’s foreign minister Wang Yi is making bilateral deals with leaders, but reporters got blocked from questioning.
Wang Yi is visiting the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor between May 26 and June 4.
Lice Movono, a Fiji journalist from the British Guardian, said, Movono witnessed Chinese officials repeatedly trying to stop the journalists from covering the event. Movono said, “from the very beginning, there was a lot of secrecy, no transparency, no access given.”
Despite being given permission to cover the visit, Movono, and other media said their media passes had been revoked without explanation.
On May 29, a media team set up to film Wang Yi talking to The media group once again got banned from filming.
After some obstacles, the filming permission gets restored, but Chinese officials lined up and blocked the cameras.
On May 30, during the joint press conference between Wang Yi and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the Chinese officials didn’t allow reporters to raise questions.
Some journalists tried to shout out questions; a Chinese official yelled at them to shut up. Wang talked for about 30 minutes and then abruptly left the stage.
Shailendra Singh, an associate professor from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, said the lack of media access to Wang Yi visit raised many questions and was deeply troubling.
“It goes against the democratic principles of the countries in the region and role of the media in a free society.”
Shailendra Singh wondered if the media blockade was meant to please the Chinese the request.
Singh added, “What next? Will the media also be barred from asking our local politicians and leaders questions? … It’s a worrying trend that needs to stop.”