Since Jan. 1st 2007, foreign journalists are officially allowed to move without restrictions within China. Although the reform is temporary, this marks a historical step towards press freedom in the country that detains the largest number of journalists.
Foreign journalists can now also hire Chinese journalists to assist them in their job. Ben Blanchard, reporter for Reuters, immediately reported from a previously restricted area in Mongolia.
According to him, the restrictions were in fact lifted, but not everybody has been informed of the reforms yet: an officer prevented him from interviewing a human rights’ lawyer.
NBC and the New York Times have already sent additional correspondents to China.
Press agencies better take swift advantage of the opportunity though: old restrictions will be reestablished on October 17th 2008, as soon as the Olympics are over.
Maybe a year and a half of ‘free’ press will be enough to prevent the return to old restrictions… 31 journalists are, officially, imprisoned in China right now.