Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao yesterday denied earlier remarks by the nation's top press officer that the authorities were building a database of overseas reporters' profiles to be used by potential interviewees.
An interview with Liu Binjie, minister of the General Administration of Press and Publication, which raised concerns over media freedom during the Olympics, was reported on the front page of China Daily on Monday. The full version was available yesterday on mainland media websites.
But Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference that the report was inaccurate. 'There is no such database and I have not heard of a plan for setting up such a database,' he said. 'I have confirmed that it was a mistake by the reporter,' he said, claiming the reporter had misunderstood what the official was saying. The Foreign Ministry, not the press watchdog, would be responsible for foreign reporters during the Olympics, he said.
In the interview, Liu Binjie said the database would cover 8,000 foreign journalists accredited to report from inside Olympic Games venues, and 20,000 others allowed to report outside the venues. The report linked the database to a crackdown on fake reporters who extort interviewees.