Melissa Chan from Al Jazeera is still one of the best things to happen to China journalism in a long time- in her most recent blog post she describes a run-in with state security while trying to interview Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang:
Al Jazeera’s team decided to speak to rights attorney Pu Zhiqiang, known for his work representing Ai Weiwei and himself an object of frequent police surveillance, to solicit his opinion.
What happened next was not surprising, but on this day, felt particularly ironic: plainclothes police officers prevented us from interviewing Pu on camera, even as we explained to them that this new legislation would curtail their state security powers.
The language used by the officers, who refused to identify themselves, might also be interesting to those unfamiliar with this kind of state apparatus: Orwellian, wrapped in code, and offering our crew “recommendations” that if disobeyed, could have meant some physical confrontation from the two men in sunglasses who were called up for reinforcement during the following exchange.
This took place in the private office of rights attorney Pu Zhiqiang. The officers present were from China’s “guo bao” — its national security/secret police ministry. They had no legal basis to be there.
Despite no prerogative to do so, we offered to allow the officers to sit in on the interview. We even offered them to record the questions we wished to ask Mr. Pu. I felt that the questions were very straightforward.
Read the rest to see what they said. Pretty unbelievable.