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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 13:18 GMT
China relaxes rules for reporters
By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Beijing

The National Stadium under construction in Beijing, China
The new rules will expire when the Olympics are over
China is to relax the country's rules on foreign reporters in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The regulations, which come into force in January, will allow them greater freedom to travel around the nation.

For decades, foreign journalists working in China have been subject to tight restrictions on where they can go and who they can interview.

At the moment, they must have government approval to travel and report outside their home base.

Tight control

In the future, reporters will only need the agreement of the person being interviewed to cover a story in another part of China, although trips to sensitive areas, like Tibet, will still need to be approved.

The rules expire after the Olympics and there are doubts about how effectively they will be applied.

Chinese officials at all levels are still deeply suspicious of foreign media.

The guidelines appear to be a response to international concerns about media freedoms ahead of the Olympics in 2008 but, despite these changes, significant questions remain about China's reporting environment.

China currently has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world.

The government keeps tight control over domestic and foreign media, blocks access to the internet and censors any material it considers politically subversive.




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