Reporters on the Job
• Preventive Measures: Whenever Chinese citizens take to the streets to protest about something, the police usually do their best to make sure that no foreign journalist gets close even if he hears about it, says staff writer Peter Ford (see story). "So I was prepared for trouble when I went to visit the town hall in Xiantang that is under occupation by angry villagers," says Peter.
In fact, he had no trouble. But after three hours in the village, his driver began getting antsy and insisted that Peter leave.
"A host of villagers offered to leave with me to offer protection against any police or hired thugs who might be lurking," says Peter. "Everybody seemed to expect some sort of ambush. Anticipating this, I tore my notes out of my notebook and hid them, ah, on my person to prevent (or at least delay) their confiscation, and away from the town hall we drove.
Peter says they made it to the airport without any interference. But, he adds, it is not wise to argue with a local driver's instincts. "I flew home to Beijing, but he has to live with the officials he has angered."
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor