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Reporters on the Job

Clandestine Do-Gooders: What surprises staff writer Peter Ford most about the sort of obstacles the Chinese government is putting in the way of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is that the groups being targeted are so small and apparently insignificant (see story). The China Development Brief was an influential publication before it was shut down, but it is hard to see how reporting on the good works of small health and environmental groups was a threat to the security of the Chinese state. Still, Peter notes, that when the magazine organized a gathering of African and Chinese NGO activists earlier this year, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank annual meeting in Shanghai, a Chinese State Security agent was staying in the hotel and demanded to see the list of participants. "What would be a routine meeting anywhere else in the world became a semiclandestine affair in China," Peter recalls.

– David Clark Scott

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