Chinese ambassador denies Beijing suppresses press freedom
China's ambassador to Tonga has denied a claim made at a broadcasting conference in the South Pacific island state that the Beijing government suppresses freedom of the media, Radio New Zealand International reported on Thursday.
Ambassador Fan Quijing walked out of the British Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's regional conference in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa during the opening address by the organization's vice-president Mano Wikranamayake of Sri Lanka, dpa reported.
The Sri Lankan reportedly cited last year's contaminated milk scandal in China, in which at least six children died and tens of thousands were made ill, as an example of challenges facing media freedom around the world.
He said the Chinese government had suppressed news of the contamination to prevent it from disrupting the Beijing Olympic Games.
Fan said China was exemplary in its openness to media during the Olympics and did not suppress information.
"I had to show my dignity so I decided to walk out as a protest to this man," he said, according to Radio New Zealand International.
"And I did not wish to cause chaos at this occasion, so I just left and I believe he knew that he made a mistake and I think that he should apologize to the government of China and the people of China."
The broadcaster said that last year, China was ranked 167th out of 173 countries in the media freedom index of Reporters Without Borders, with the country with most media freedom ranked as number one.