Chinese authorities issued a set of less stringent news regulations this month to make the task of overseas journalists easier in the run-up to and during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The regulations issued Saturday morning covered overseas journalists from Hong Kong and Macao. Similar regulations for other overseas journalists including foreign and Taiwan journalists were issued on Oct. 1 and Oct. 27 respectively.
Under the new regulations, overseas journalists who are not resident on the Chinese mainland no longer need to be accompanied or assisted by a Chinese official or a Chinese host institution when they report in China.
Overseas journalists also no longer need to apply to provincial foreign affairs offices for permission to report in all provinces of China, but still must get the prior consent of the organizations or individuals they want to interview.
Overseas journalists can hire Chinese citizens to assist them in their reporting activities, according to the regulations, but must work through official organizations providing services to foreign nationals.
The new regulations have also simplified customs procedures for reporting equipment brought into China by foreign journalists -- the requirement of a letter from a Chinese host institution has been dropped.
Masood Sattar Khan, correspondent for Associated Press of Pakistan in Beijing, said early this month these regulations were a positive gesture by the Chinese government in addressing the concerns of foreign journalists in reporting the Olympic Games.
Foreign journalists are looking forward to seeing the new regulations applied in practice and hope they will be prolonged after Aug. 17, 2008.
Answering a question from an Icelandic reporter, China's top publicity official Cai Wu hinted Thursday that new regulations granting foreign journalists more freedom to report in China may be extended after the 2008 Olympic Games.
Cai said his personal view was that "If the new regulations prove beneficial to our development and to exchanges between us and foreign media, and if they aid communication with the international community, then I imagine there will be no need to change the policy".
Regulations for overseas journalists will come into force on Jan. 1, 2007, and expire on Oct. 17, 2008.