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05-08-08, 11:28
China says it regrets beating of Japanese journalists over coverage in Xinjiang
Tuesday 05th August, 04:04 PM JST

KASHGAR, China —
China told Japan on Tuesday it regrets Monday’s beating by paramilitary police of a reporter and a photographer from two Japanese news organizations covering a deadly attack on police in northwest China’s restive Xinjiang region earlier that day.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the comments to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, in response to a letter earlier in the day that Tokyo regrets the incident and demands that it not be repeated, the embassy said in a statement.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported in the afternoon that the Xinjiang police and the local foreign affairs department apologized to the reporter and photographer.

Masami Kawakita, a photographer from the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper’s Tokyo headquarters, and Shinji Katsuta, a reporter of Nippon Television Network Corp’s China General Bureau, both suffered light injuries in the incident, the two media organizations said separately.

Kawakita, 38, and Katsuta, 37, arrived in Kashgar, a city in the western part of Xinjiang, late Monday to cover the attack at a police base in which 16 officers were killed and 16 others injured.

Police forcibly disrupted the Japanese journalists’ reporting activities near the base, took them to a room in a nearby hotel and beat them before releasing them two hours later, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

They said the photographer had his face pushed to the floor at one point, while some of his equipment was destroyed.

Xinhua said in its report that the reporters ‘‘clashed with local border police when they tried to film a restricted area controlled by border police.’’

The Japanese Embassy’s statement said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin told Hisashi Michigami, minister at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, over the telephone that he was informed about the incident late on Monday.

‘‘We regret what happened at the site,’’ Qin was quoted as saying.

Qin also said the Foreign Ministry will continue to make an effort to provide a ‘‘good environment to foreign reporters, including Japanese reporters,’’ according to the statement.

As part of its Olympic pledge, China has promised to give international media complete freedom during the Summer Games.

Beijing implemented temporary media rules from January 2007 that lifted travel restrictions on foreign correspondents from that month to October 2008. Under those rules, foreign reporters can interview anyone who has given consent.

The two were among several dozen journalists who arrived in Kashgar late Monday to cover the attack on the police officers that morning.

According to Xinhua, two Uygur men, aged 28 and 33, were detained after driving a truck into the group of police officers, hurling explosives and assaulting them with knives, in what police have called a suspected terrorist attack, only days ahead of the Olympic Games.

Xinhua reported Tuesday that investigations have revealed that one of the men is a driver and the other a vegetable seller.

Tuesday’s report also said the nine homemade explosive devices and a gun that were found were similar to items confiscated during a raid in January on a training camp run by a Muslim separatist group.

Police also found material calling for ‘‘holy war,’’ according to the Xinhua report.

© 2008 Kyodo News. All rights reserved. No reproduction or republication without written permission

05-08-08, 16:39
China manhandled press covering attack: Japan
Updated at: 1135 PST, Tuesday, August 05, 2008
TOKYO: Japan said Tuesday it would lodge a strong protest with China against the alleged rough treatment of two Japanese journalists covering a deadly assault in the northwest of the country.

A photographer for the Tokyo newspaper was forcibly detained late Monday and kicked by police in the city of Kashgar, his employer said.

"The government is still collecting information, although we believe the incident really occurred," government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters. "We are planning to make a strong protest."