Archive for July 30th, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hong Kong Journalists Association criticizes alleged Wenzhou Coverage Restrictions

The Hong Kong Journalists Association has urged mainland authorities to stop interfering in media coverage of last week’s fatal high-speed train crash in Wenzhou. Association chairwoman Mak Yin-ting said some mainland journalists have told her of directives issued to them by the government, restricting their reports to the accounts given by the state-run Xinhua news agency. Several newspapers on the mainland were also forced to pull planned lead stories about the tragedy. Ms Mak said China’s curb on press freedoms is not acceptable.

RTHK News, July 30, 2011

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has criticized the central propaganda department for issuing restrictions on coverage of the Wenzhou rear-end railway accident, and demanded the withdrawal [of the restrictions].

Before, widespread internet news had said that the central propaganda department had issued the third restriction since the accident occured, obliging more than 100 publications of Saturday (July 30) to withdraw or rivise their coverage overnight.

[…]

The HKJA said that according to its understanding, the central propaganda department had decreed that media in all regions, including their subsidiaries’ publications and websites, should rapidly lower the temperature (迅速降温) of their coverage concerning the accident.

BBC Chinese Website, July 30, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Wenzhou Train Crash, Public Reactions, and Social Management

Doppelpod, a blog in German and Chinese, perceives a quantum leap in China’s public debate, triggered by the high-speed train accident near Wenzhou, and notes that this leap has gone mostly unnoticed by German media. Which is true – but then, even the train accident itself wasn’t big news here.

A comment by King Tubby seems to have shed a light of insight for me onto how the current internet openness is rated, and – I believe – overrated among foreigners who do  follow the events closely.

My reply to his comment:

Maybe I’m misinformed, but loss of fear is a very gradual process, and it can go back and forth. Also, some of the openness comes from the top. I’m aware of the cover-up directive, but such directives will come with every major (重大) accident or incident. (Let’s face it: this accident is only considered major for affecting a crown jewel of modernization, and is therefore a matter of trust and example).

When it comes to Wen and leaders of his kind, I’m not so sure that the current public supervision is really that unwelcome. Gorbachev’s answer to insurmountable bureaucratic problems was glasnost. That’s not on the cards even for Wen, I suppose, but while the references to the role of the Chinese internet are newsworthy, the emphasis is sometimes overblown. Way too early to think of this as a new dawn, or something like that.

I’m pretty sure the train crash has been rated a less-than-principal contradiction (非基本矛盾) by the politbureau. Hence the lightning bolts of public opinion. They are tolerated, and to some extent encouraged from the top.

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Related: Social Management »

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