Journalists covering two major international events in Cambodia and Indonesia this week have been prevented from doing their work.
A producer for US news outlet ABC News was pressed when she tried to ask a question during President Joe Biden’s meeting with China’s leader Xi Jinping.
Separately, journalists from Voice of America (VOA) and Voice of Democracy (VOD) were denied access by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen to a press conference during the ASEAN summit being held in the country.
ABC News White House pool reporter Molly Nagle was part of the small media group covering the start of the president’s meeting with Xi on Monday.
During a break, Nagle called out a question to Biden, asking if he would include legal issues in the sessions.
However, an unidentified person believed to be from the Chinese delegation pulled the journalist backwards, causing her to temporarily lose her balance.
The man, wearing a face mask with a Chinese flag, then pushed her toward the door, according to Agence France-Presse.
AFP reports that two White House officials intervened, saying the producer should be left alone.
VOA emailed the spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington asking for comment, but received no response.
Separately, journalists from VOA’s Khmer service and independent broadcaster VOD were denied access to a press conference by Hun Sen in Cambodia on Sunday.
Both media had signed up to cover the post-ASEAN summit press conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, but were denied credentials.
The Cambodian Center for Independent Media, the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association and the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia have jointly asked the Cambodian Ministry of Information to clarify why the journalists were refused entry.
“Since the Prime Minister welcomed questions from the media, we would like to know why journalists from VOD and VOA were not allowed to ask questions,” read the joint statement released on Monday.
The media associations asked the ministry to “explain this apparent discrimination against journalists from certain news agencies”.
According to the group, two press officials from the Ministry of Information said their boss would not allow VOD and VOA journalists to attend the conference with Hun Sen.
Pa Sokheng, a reporter for VOD whose application was denied, expressed “deep disappointment” and said there should be no discrimination and restrictions on media.
“Baning journalists from listening and asking questions … shows that the state is trying to hide loopholes in societal development instead of finding a solution,” she told VOA Khmer.
Ith Sothoeuth, media director of Cambodia’s Center for Independent Media, said allowing some media outlets to participate but not others “shows unequal treatment of journalists”.
A spokesman for VOA’s public relations department described the ban on its journalists and others as “deeply concerning”.
“These actions by Cambodian officials are in direct contradiction to the values of democratic societies,” the VOA spokesman said via email. “We stand with our audiences in Cambodia and will continue to provide them with accurate, balanced and comprehensive journalism in both English and Khmer.”
Phos Sovann, a spokesman for Cambodia’s Information Ministry, said the prime minister’s office protocol does not allow VOA and VOD reporters to cover Hun Sen’s event.
The reason, the spokesman said, is that the two media outlets are not fully reporting the chairman’s speech. This approach, the spokesman said, creates confusion.
Hun Sen’s speeches and events are usually broadcast on Facebook Live, but this event required journalists to have a pass to attend.
The ministry spokesman dismissed concerns about apparent discrimination, saying only two outlets were blocked and “several others allowed”.
In the case of ABC reporter Nagle in Indonesia, the White House pool reporter documented the incident in her report.
“I was being pulled backwards by my backpack by a member of the Chinese group as I screamed,” she wrote. “I stumbled back and then was pushed toward the door, throwing me off balance.”
This story originated in VOA’s Khmer service. Some information comes from AFP.