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Germany slams China's crackdown on foreign journalists

For the second time in a week, Germany has reprimanded China for muffling the media. Over a dozen foreign reporters were temporarily arrested in Shanghai on Sunday as they sought to cover a street protest.

Chinese policemen ask an Associated Press cameraman to leave

Restrictions on foreign media have been mounting

At least 15 foreign journalists have been detained after trying to report on an anti-government protest in China, sparking condemnation from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

The foreign minister said it was "very disturbing" that the journalists – one of whom writes for Germany's Stern magazine – had been detained.

Janis Vougioukas, a Shanghai-based correspondent for Stern, told the German news agency dpa by telephone that the journalists were being held in an "underground bunker" that was acting as a makeshift police station.

"It's a really strange place," he said.

According to Vougioukas, the journalists were detained outside Shanghai's Peace Cinema where anonymous online organizers had called for weekly anti-government protests.

The Stern reporter was freed after three hours.

Second round of detentions this week

Protester being taken away by Chinese police

Online organizers have called for weekly anti-government 'Jasmine' protests

Last Sunday, police in Shanghai and Beijing detained at least 16 journalists, including a dpa reporter, to prevent them reporting on anti-government protests in those cities. A reporter for Bloomberg News was beaten as he tried to film at a protest in a Beijing shopping street.

Last week, German officials summoned the senior Chinese diplomat in Berlin to highlight concerns about restrictions being placed on journalists.

Following the new detentions, Westerwelle appealed to the Chinese government to ensure unimpeded reporting by German and other foreign media.

"The continued hindrance to the work of journalists is not acceptable," the minister said in a statement.

China has been ramping up controls on foreign journalists amid fears of anti-government protests in the style of those that have swept through North Africa and the Middle East.

The deputy director of Beijing's Foreign Affairs Office, Li Honghai, said reporters must now apply for government permission to conduct any news gathering within the city center.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/AP)
Editor: Kyle James

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