Beijing, Jan 29 (PTI) Over 55 per cent of the foreign journalists working in China believe that the reporting conditions in the country has deteriorated over the last one year, with several of them expressed concern about being followed and facing visa delays, according to a survey published Tuesday. Also Read - LIVE CRICKET SCORE Ind vs Aus 4th Test Day 5 Today's Match Live Updates Gabba, Brisbane: Cummins Removes Rohit, Pujara Joins Gill

In the report titled “Under Watch: Reporting in China’s Surveillance State”, the Foreign Correspondent Club of China (FCCC) said its survey of 109 journalists “painted the darkest picture of reporting conditions inside China in recent memory”. Also Read - Lionel Messi Ban: Barcelona Star Could be Suspended For 12 Games Following Red-Card in Spanish Super Cup Final

“Fifty-five per cent of respondents (compared to 40 per cent in 2017) said they believed conditions deteriorated in 2018 — the largest proportion since 2011, when foreign media coverage of pro-democracy protests prompted an extensive government backlash. Not a single correspondent said conditions improved last year,” the report said. Also Read - Brisbane Weather Forecast For 4th Test Day 5: Will Rain Play Spoilsport During India vs Australia Match at The Gabba, Start Time, Match Predictions

Surveillance was a top concern among the foreign journalists, with close to half of the respondents saying that they were being followed or their hotel room searched while they were in the field.

Many foreign journalists were also threatened with visa delays.

“For the first time in three years, a foreign correspondent was effectively expelled through visa denial. Separately, Chinese authorities also issued severely shortened visas and reporting credentials, one for just 2.5 months, to at least five correspondents,” the survey revealed.

Some foreign correspondents were denied visas after they reported on the conditions in the volatile Uighur Muslim majority Xinjiang province where China is carrying out a major crackdown on East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Up to a million Uighurs and members of other mostly Muslim minority groups are held in extrajudicial detention in camps in the region, according to a group of experts cited by the United Nations. China has accused foreign media of sensationalising the issue.

“The wider monitoring and pressure on sources stop journalists even before they can reach the news site,” FCCC president Hanna Sahlberg said.

“There is a risk that even foreign media will shy away from stories that are perceived as too troublesome, or costly, to tell in China. These trends run contrary to the FCCC’s hopes for real openness for foreign media to be able to cover China,” Sahlberg said.

Meanwhile, when asked for his comments on the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a media briefing here said the FCCC publishes such report every year.

“The content is basically cliche and old-fashioned. I don’t think this report can represent the opinions of all foreign correspondents in China. It is not worth refuting,” he said.

Geng added China is willing to provide the necessary support and assistance to foreign correspondents in China and they can get in touch with the Foreign Ministry if they face any problems.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.