China Orders Ouster of 2 American Newsmen; Crackdown Stories Cited
Authorities today ordered two American reporters expelled for their reporting on the martial law crackdown that crushed the pro-democracy movement.
Given three days to leave were John Pomfret of the Associated Press and Voice of America bureau chief Alan Pessin.
The expulsion order came as authorities intensified criticism of the United States and pressed on with a nationwide clampdown on dissent that has already netted more than 1,000 arrests.
Communist authorities have criticized VOA, whose short-wave broadcasts are an important source of information for Chinese, as spreading “distortions.” They have also condemned Washington for sheltering Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi and his wife, Li Shuxian, at the U.S. Embassy.
200 Line Up for Visas
The embassy in Beijing reopened its visa office today, and about 200 Chinese who want to leave the country lined up.
The Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, warned the United States in a harsh front-page editorial today to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and not do anything to harm bilateral relations.”
“Anyone who tries . . . to put pressure on the Chinese government is not sensible and is shortsighted, and will gain no advantage in the end,” the editorial said.
Police said Pomfret violated martial law regulations on reporting and had met with leaders of the independent student organizations that led seven weeks of protests for a freer China.
“Pomfret used his journalism credentials for illegal activities and used illegal methods to get state secrets,” the Beijing television news charged. “He protected the leaders of student groups and exchanged information with them.”
Pomfret, 30, has worked for the AP since 1986 and has been based in Beijing since 1988. He studied in China from 1980 to ’82 and speaks fluent Chinese.
“I did my job as a journalist and I worked hard,” Pomfret said. “It’s a shame that these are the results I get.”
Pessin, 33, said the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing accused him of engaging in reporting aimed at distorting facts, spreading rumors and instigating turmoil and counterrevolutionary rebellion.
“The only motive we have is to tell the truth as best we can. Governments do not always like that,” said Pessin.
The official New China News Agency today issued its first detailed account of the assault on Beijing, saying that nearly 100 soldiers and police died and that thousands were wounded. It said about 100 civilians were killed and nearly 1,000 injured.
The figures were lower even than those given last week by a government spokesman, who said nearly 300 people were killed, including many soldiers. Chinese witnesses and Western intelligence estimates say about 3,000 people were killed, most of them civilians.