torsdag 4. oktober 2018

Reflections Of A Chinese Reporter In Foreign Media

In April 2014, I received a call from China’s economic planning ministry. Incensed by a story we just published about the country’s efforts to fight pollution and climate change, the ministry’s communications officer rattled off a slew of transgressions. But to him, one offense stood out above all others. The room where the country’s top climate negotiator met us for an interview, we wrote, was the size of a basketball court. The frantic call with the ministry ended with a threat: delete that sentence from the article, or they would never talk to us again.

At the time, I was working in the Beijing bureau of the Financial Times. In granting an exclusive interview to an international newspaper, the ministry wanted to convince the world that Beijing was serious about tackling climate change — but the mention of the room size ruffled feathers. The reason? Officials there feared being caught in the crosshairs of an ongoing austerity campaign led by President Xi Jinping.