On March 15, a Sankei Shimbun reporter was denied entry to a press conference convened by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the close of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. At a press conference held on March 16, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying explained, “Several thousand reporters from China and abroad participated in journalistic activities during the National People’s Congress. The particular auditorium where the press conference was held accommodated approximately 1000 people. I believe that the Sankei was not the only outlet which did not participate in the conference.”
In fact, the auditorium where the press conference was held had empty seats. When asked why the Sankei Shimbun was the only Japanese media outlet not permitted to attend the conference while other outlets were able to send multiple reporters, Hua replied, “I do not have a concrete understanding of what actually happened.”
Letters of invitation issued by the Chinese government are required for anyone who wants to participate in the press conference. The Sankei Shimbun has received these letters in the past—until last week. The Chinese Foreign Ministry often calls Sankei employees in to lodge its “protests” over various aspects of its reporting.
Yoshiaki Nishimi is correspondent with Sankei Shimbun‘s Beijing bureau