FRONT PAGE: Agencies warned off putting 'spin' on China

Any PR agency that works for the Chinese government runs the risk of demonstrations outside its offices, campaigners have warned.

Under fire: protests against China
Under fire: protests against China

The Free Tibet Campaign issued the warning following reports this weekend that the Chinese government is in secret talks with several int­ernational agencies. Sources at the Chinese Embassy in London confirmed it had been approached by a number of agencies.

Matt Whitticase, spokesman for the Free Tibet Campaign, said: ‘Any PR agency that is trying to assist China in its twisted distortion of the truth would be potentially exposing itself to protests outside its offices.'

European pressure groups are meeting in Budapest today to discuss their strategy to stop the Olympic torch ­going through Tibet. Potential campaigns against PR agencies will also be discussed. Other tactics to be consi­dered include writing to clients and asking them to reconsider their involvement with agencies.

Major PR firms were coy about the prospect of working the Chinese government, when approached by PRWeek. Ogilvy, Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum all refused to rule out working for the under-fire regime. ‘We'd need to consider the brief carefully and speak to our team before making a decision,' said Ketchum deputy CEO Avril Lee.

Only Hill & Knowlton, which works for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games, said it would not pitch for the business - but only because it wanted to ­focus on its core brief.

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