SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s freedoms of speech, expression and access to information were challenged yesterday when Chinese officials barred both PNG and non-Chinese media from attending meetings at three APEC venues.
It began in parliament when Chinese president Xi Jinping was giving an address after a guard of honour.
EMTV journalist Theckla Gunga who was assigned to cover the president’s visit reported that just after 11am Chinese officials accompanying the president ordered the microphones removed from a speaker next to which they had been placed to record the speeches.
“Chinese officials who are organising the official opening of the Chinese-funded six-lane road have refused to give audio feeds to media personnel,” Gunga wrote in a WhatsApp message. “Microphones belonging to both local and international media have been removed.”
The officials allowed Chinese state owned broadcaster CCTV to record Xi Jinping’s speech. Gunga and other journalists spent about 10 minutes arguing with the Chinese officials but were still refused.
One hour later, EMTV Online reporter Merylyn Diau-Katam faced another group of Chinese officials at the gate of a Chinese government funded school.
“Before the president arrived a bus full of Chinese media personnel were driven into the gate on a bus,” she said. “And when we wanted to go in, we were told our names were not on the list even though we had APEC accreditation passes.
“No media. No media,” a Chinese official said.
Diau-Katam was not the only one refused entry. In the group was a photographer from Japanese public broadcaster, NHK, and other media. A PNG government official also spent several minutes arguing with the Chinese security to let him in.
At 5pm on Friday, Chinese officials again booted out local and international media from a meeting between the Chinese president and Pacific Island country leaders.
EMTV anchor and senior journalist Meriba Tulo was among others told to “get out” of the meeting while Chinese media were allowed into the room.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation was also told to leave. And Post Courier senior journalist Gorethy Kenneth said Chinese officials from Beijing were initially angry with the presence of international media.
“I said: ‘We are here to cover the meeting, our names have been submitted.’ And they said: ‘No, all of you get out,'” Kenneth said.