ABC episode of Foreign Correspondent draws complaints from China
ABC is proceeding with its episode about a Chinese crackdown on a Muslim community in Xinjiang Province, despite requests to drop it.
In the episode reporter Stephen McDonell heads into Xinjiang Province in China as Beijing cracks down on Uighurs, a small Muslim community seeking an independent homeland. Both McDonell and his cameraman attracted the attention of Chinese security while filming.
Fairfax reports that 2 weeks ago the Chinese embassy in Canberra contacted the ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, to request the story not be aired. Two senior officials from the Chinese embassy later had an hour-long meeting with the ABC’s director of communications, Michael Millett.
“They made their views clear that they didn’t want the program shown … suffice to say we will be showing the program,” Millett told Fairfax.
“We were very concerned about the integrity and safety of the material while filming and while trying to get it back to Australia,” exec producer Steve Taylor said.
For the ABC the sensitivity is in contrast to official co-operation on the filming of Two Men in China and a deal earlier this year with Shanghai Media Group.
McDonell is one of 20 correspondents the ABC has had in China over 40 years.
Last year he told TV Tonight, “In China it’s hard to operate as a journalist at the best of times, especially in television. But the thing with the Chinese is once you get in –you get in. If they give you access it’s real access.”
You can read more on the episode synopsis here.