China's State Council, the country's cabinet, issued on December 1 a decree granting foreign journalists more freedom in reporting activities in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.
Under the regulations that are effective from January 1, 2007 to October 17, 2008, foreign journalists who are non-residents of China are not required to be accompanied or assisted by a Chinese official when they report in China, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao.
Foreign journalists will also be allowed to engage in independent reporting in all localities without permission from provincial foreign affairs offices. They can also hire Chinese citizens to assist them in such reporting. In addition, the Customs procedures for vehicles and equipment used by foreign journalists have been simplified by canceling the requirement for an assurance letter issued by a Chinese host institution.