By Tenzin Tsering
Dharamsala, July 9 – A Polish journalist has been denied visa to travel to China, 3 months after his colleague Maria Kruczkowska was also denied visa to China.
Both the journalists working for Poland’s largest newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, specialized in covering stories on China are now “blacklisted” by the Chinese authorities. Maria was barred from visiting China to cover the Shanghai Expo in May for writing an article that criticized the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Gazeta Wyborcza.
“This is a tragedy for me” said Konrad Godlewski, 34, a freelance journalist commissioned by the newspaper who had visited China several times in the past without any trouble.
Godlewski, though officially invited by the founders of the Europe China Foundation to cover the China-Europe Forum from July7 - 11, was given no explanation other than that he is “blacklisted”.
The spokesperson of Chinese embassy in Poland refused to reason on the rejection of visa to the two journalists saying “the Chinese authorities are not obliged to reveal” why their names were put on the blacklist.
Godlewski has earlier reported from China and even stayed in Beijing studying Chinese language. He believes that his translation of an interview between the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and Chinese writer Wang Lixong in May, must have resulted in his blacklisting.
Kruczkowska who has only a year to retire said, “This will affect my work radically. I cannot write reports without visiting the country.”
The International Press Institute (IPI) board member and Gazeta Wyborcza Deputy Editor-in-Chief Piotr Stasinski, called it “deeply surprising” saying both the journalists are “very knowledgeable reporters, experienced in covering modern China issues and developments”.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “We expect China to abide by universal press freedom values. This includes allowing foreign journalists to cover developments inside China, just as Chinese journalists should be allowed to cover events elsewhere in the world. Maria Kruczkowska and Konrad Godlewski are apparently being denied entry into China because they are associated with pieces of journalism critical of the Chinese authorities. We urge China to refrain from blacklisting journalists because of their work and to allow them access to the country so that they can continue to inform the public.”