Diplomat in media rebuke had bad attitude, says Zhu
Zhu Rongji sought yesterday to calm the row over a Chinese diplomat's treatment of a TVB reporter during the Prime Minister's visit to Paris.
Mr Zhu also denied he had said he had not seen the leaflets urging the release of mainland journalist Gao Yu which were showered over him last week.
His 'clarifications' came during a photo session before meeting visiting South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki. Mr Zhu's aide brought up the subject as they were waiting for Mr Mbkei.
Referring to the remarks by first secretary of the Chinese Embassy in France, Su Xu, who berated the TVB reporter for asking the premier a question, the aide began replying when Mr Zhu interjected: 'His attitude was bad. It was all filmed.' The Prime Minister also attempted to limit the damage over his claim that he had not seen the protest.
Mr Zhu said: 'Some Hong Kong newspapers asked: 'Did you not say previously that you never told lies? Why then did you say you did not see it?' But I was not saying that I did not see the hurling of handbills. I did not look at the content. It was true that I did not look at it.' The TVB incident - in which the diplomat threatened reporter John Liauw Chung-ping that co-operation could be withdrawn - provoked press freedom fears.
Media groups welcomed Mr Zhu's admission that Mr Su's harsh comments were inappropriate.
But Hong Kong Journalists' Association chairman Carol Lai Pui-yee wanted Mr Zhu to go further and say whether he approved of Mr Su's warnings.
She said: 'And what did Mr Zhu mean by pointing out that the whole process has been filmed? Was he trying to say that it would be all right if it had not been filmed?' Ronald Chiu Ying-chun, of the Hong Kong News Executives' Association, said Mr Zhu had sent a good message to mainland officials by openly disapproving of the act.
Edmund Chan Kin-ming, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, said mainland authorities had reviewed the incident and decided to demonstrate regret.
'It is certainly an active and positive move,' he said.