The scolding of a TVB reporter by a mainland diplomat in Paris was an isolated case, the Foreign Ministry's Hong Kong office insisted yesterday. It issued a statement saying it would continue to provide the necessary help to 'reasonable' news gathering by Hong Kong journalists. The ministry said it had noticed the reports of the controversy and recognised its importance. 'Following Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, press freedom is sufficiently protected by the Basic Law,' the statement said. 'The incident in Paris is only an isolated case. The ministry will respond to reasonable requests made by the press. Reporters must observe relevant rules.' The response came after Su Xu, the First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Paris, scolded TVB reporter John Liauw Chung-ping on Monday for asking premier Zhu Rongji a question. Liauw had asked Mr Zhu to comment on an earlier protest by Reporters Without Borders. Mr Su said such a question should not be asked and threatened an end to co-operation with the reporter. Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang insisted that the case did not involve suppression of the press. He said reporters were free to ask questions and interviewees could choose to answer or not.