Survey results painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions inside China in recent memory. For the first time in three years, a foreign correspondent was effectively expelled through visa denial. Separately, Chinese authorities also issued severely shortened visas and reporting credentials, one for just 2.5 months, to at least five correspondents. Pressure on Chinese national news assistants and sources intensified, and close to half of respondents reported themselves being followed or having their hotel room entered without permission while in the field.
Fifty five percent of respondents said they believed conditions deteriorated in 2018 — the largest proportion since 2011, when foreign media coverage of pro-democracy protests prompted an extensive government backlash. Not a single correspondent said conditions improved last year.