On Feb. 27, a news crew with the German public television channel ARD was attacked by unidentified individuals with baseball bats and subsequently forced into a car chase in China’s northern province of Hebei.

The crew, which included the director of the ARD’s Beijing office, Christine Adelhardt, two other German reporters and two Chinese staff members, was reporting on urbanisation in the region, according to the ARD.

As Adelhardt stated on the ARD this Friday, the crew’s car was forced off the road by four other vehicles and subsequently attacked with fists and baseball bats.

She said: “It was a moment in which we feared for our life.”

The crew managed to drive away, but were chased by car. The incident only ended following the intervention of the local traffic police.

The Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said it was “appalled” by the “brutal assault on the German TV crew by thugs apparently linked to local authorities.” The FCCC reported that a local resident “recognised one of the thug’s vehicles as belonging to the village’s Communist Party secretary.”

Adelhardt noted that this was not the first attack on her team and that she was aware of many instances in which foreign reporters had become victims of violence.

According to Adelhardt, reporting is particularly difficult in cases in which local government officials are allegedly involved in “shady business”.

She added that the Friday attack was “extreme” even by Chinese standards, given that foreign journalists usually enjoy more protection than their Chinese counterparts.

According to the ARD, the crew was held for 16 hours by police for questioning after the attack.

The FCCC reported that the attackers were also detained by police and claimed the news crew had not asked permission to film.

“IPI urges the Chinese government to ensure that the perpetrators of this brutal attack are brought to justice,” IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said.

“Such attempts to prevent journalists from carrying out their work are never acceptable,” he added.