People less willing to talk

I normally have difficulty leaving and entering mainland China. I’m usually stopped by immigration in the airport and asked about my work, my recent travel and contacts, and my views on certain politically charged topics like Hong Kong and Xinjiang. This has happened about 15 times and began after I wrote a feature on Xinjiang.

About this project

This project was produced by VOA’s Extremism Watch and Press Freedom desks. It includes a snapshot of restrictions and challenges for media covering COVID-19 worldwide and personal views of journalists who spoke with VOA.

People are much less willing to talk in person, over the phone, much less on tape or camera these days. There is simply no upside for them to do so. That means fewer interviews with former/current officials, academics and companies.

Most ordinary people do not have encrypted chat apps, so reaching out to them in a secure fashion is often very difficult. I have given up interviews, knowing that a phone call or text to someone might get them in trouble.