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Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk through the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk through the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

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Why Harper and Hu stiffed the press Add to ...

If one reads right to the end of this long (and very positive) report of yesterday's meetings between the two leaders - Chinese president's visit a piece of friendly choreography - one reads:

There was no joint press conference with Harper and Hu, unlike most state visits with world leaders in Ottawa.

"On our side, we would have been more than happy to answer a few questions from reporters," Soudas said, directing further questions to the Chinese Embassy.

Turning to Le Devoir, one reads a report filed by Helene Buzzetti, who also happens to be president of the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa, under the headline "Harper agrees to Chinese censorship":

The Conservative government may take a firm line in public statements on the question of human rights, but when the rubber hits the road, it prefers to bend to the Communist government's demands for censorship. PM Harper's office agreed to cancel a joint press conference to prevent critical Chinese journalists from participating.

China's embassy was concerned that a press conference would include journalists from two media organizations that Beijing detests: Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty.

The Embassy therefore approached the organizers a few weeks ago and demanded that representatives of these media be excluded from the press conference. When the parliamentary press gallery refused to accede to the demand - on the basis that the two media organizations were full members of the gallery - the Embassy turned to the PMO, which took up its cause.

At first, Mr. Harper's advisers tried to negotiate a compromise with the gallery - but these negotiations did not bear fruit. In the end, the press conference (which had never been officially announced) was cancelled….

Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty are linked to Falun Gong … both are critical of the human rights record of China's Communist party. In 2004-2005, the two media published and broadcast a kind of manifesto describing the nine "crimes" of the regime. Epoch Times, published in French, English and Cantonese, supports the Tibetan cause.

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