- Thanks to Matt J. for finding this and bringing it to our attention. Note: this is the second time in 24 hours, but the third time in total it has happened to Nick.
- No METTLE lunch tomorrow. Instead we are taking part in the “fun march” from Civic Square at 12pm to Parliament protesting the Anti-Smacking Bill.
- I won’t keep sending political commentary. This is the last one. If you are interested to stay informed, keep an eye on my blog http://tvornz.spaces.live.com/
- Just did another lunch-time petition gathering exercise and got another 20 signatures!
METTLE is an acronym for Men’s Elim Team Together for Lunch Experiences. We meet weekly in the CBD to encourage each other in our daily walk with Jesus. If you know of anyone who may benefit from these meetings, you are welcome to bring them along. Similarly, if your circumstances as such that membership in this distribution list is no longer relevant, then hit reply to have it removed.
Journalist evicted from Parliament for second time
A Chinese journalist who was evicted from the Beehive during the visit of China’s vice premier last night was refused entry to Parliament this morning.
Journalist Nick Wang, based in Wellington, and cameraman/editor Tony Clark went to the Beehive last night to document deputy prime minister Michael Cullen meeting Zeng Peiyan but was asked to leave after complaints from Chinese officials.
This morning National Party leader John Key met with the Chinese vice-premier in his Parliament office.
After the meeting had started, Wang arrived outside Key’s office with his camera and confronted parliamentary police who refused to let him through.
Bystanders, including a newspaper photographer, said Wang told an officer he had spoken to his lawyer and was going to seek compensation from police for the expulsion. Wang then left Parliament.
When Key’s meeting with Peiyan finished about an hour later, the National Party leader sidestepped the expulsion debate saying it wasn’t raised during the talk, and it was ultimately an issue for Cullen.
"I wasn’t there so it’s hard for me to judge."
When pressed, Key said as a "general rule of thumb” he respected the media accreditation.
The Chinese journalist said he was evicted from the Beehive photo opportunity last night because of pressure on the Government from the Chinese Embassy.
The photo opportunity had been listed in a media advisory.
Prime Minister Helen Clark told NZPA the two men were prevented from properly doing their job after a "local Chinese intelligence guy" told a member of the Diplomatic Protection Squad that Wang was "a problem".
While members of the Chinese media travelling with the delegation were allowed into the eighth floor meeting room to observe the official handshake, Clark and Wang were escorted by a uniformed police officer to the office of Parliament’s Speaker.
Wang said today he had refused to leave when asked to.
"(The delegation) asked me to leave and the police asked me to leave and I said `unless you are arresting me, if you don’t arrest me I am here I am working, I am working for freedom of speech, for human rights’," he told Radio New Zealand.
Wang said his previous reporting had raised hackles.
"I believe the New Zealand Government received letters or some pressure from Chinese Embassy," he said.
"I was telephoned by the Chinese Embassy asking why I published news stories about the 15th anniversary of Tiannamen movement."
Wang is an accredited member of the Press Gallery which means he has a pass that allows him access to Parliament’s buildings.
Clark obtained permission to take pictures.
Both men work for New Zealand Asia TV and Capital Chinese news, a New Zealand-based Chinese language newspaper.
They produce a half-hour show on Triangle Television, reporting on Asian events in the Wellington region.
Press Gallery chairwoman Marie McNicholas was called after the Chinese delegation protested at the journalist’s presence.
She said she refused to assist removing Wang.
"I was pulled aside by the deputy head of mission here for the Chinese embassy who asked me to remove Wang and claimed that he was a security risk. I said I didn’t remove journalists, this was New Zealand and we didn’t do that."
A Government spokesman last night said there had been a misunderstanding.
Eventually the pair were permitted to go to the Beehive venue where an official signing ceremony was to be held but the Chinese delegation refused to take part at the assigned time while Wang was there.
The official line was that the signing ceremony was held later because talks had gone on longer than expected.
The signing related to agreements on standards, technical documents that would have been agreed long in advance.
The Chinese vice-premier, whose visit has not been widely advertised, also signed an air crew access agreement while at Parliament.
Communist China maintains tight controls over its media, and it also shields its top brass from protest.
When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Wellington last year, the small group of protesters there to greet him when he arrived at his hotel were shielded from view by a bus parked across the doorway.
It is a tactic the Chinese have also used on other occasions.
But they could not stop the late Green co-leader Rod Donald when he held up a Tibetan flag to protest at China’s occupation of that country when another top Chinese official was in the country in 2005.
At the time Chinese security staff objected to Donald’s actions until police pointed out he was an MP and entitled to stand on the steps of Parliament with the flag.
The official, National People’s Congress of China chairman Wu Bangguo, was ushered through a side door so he would not have to walk up Parliament’s front steps in front of the flag.
Green co-leader and trade spokesperson Russel Norman said he understood that the Government directed police to remove Wang, sacrificing free speech to try to make progress on trade.
The treatment of Wang was "a sad and desperate attempt to win favour with the Chinese so that they will sign a trade deal with New Zealand", he said.
He compared the incident to the National-led Government’s handling of protesters during a 1999 visit by Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin.
"The Government must tell the Chinese government that when they come to New Zealand they will be exposed to dissenting views because we value freedom of speech, trade deal or no trade deal."
Norman said Wellington City Council had tried to exclude Falun Gong from public events in Wellington because of Chinese Embassy opposition.
– With NZPA