IFJ urges Chinese Premier to lift ban on reporting pigs’ deaths

Media Release: China                                             

March 18, 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned China’s

Central Propaganda Department has imposed censorship on media outlets after

they began reporting the death of thousands of pigs in China’s Shanghai and Zhejiang province.

Several Chinese media outlets have been reporting reported that,

since March 5, dramatic numbers of pig carcasses are being discovered in

waterways around Shanghai.

The English-language service of The

Global Times, the People’s Daily sister publication, reported on March 17 that Shanghai Water Authority had not

found any viruses in water samples taken from the districts of Songjiang,

Jinshan, Minhang and Fengxian.

The report also said the Shanghai Animal Disease Control Centre

found that 13 of the 20 tissue samples taken from pig carcasses tested positive

for porcine circovirus, adding that the virus does not affect humans.

Furthermore, the Animal Disease Control Centre in Zhejiang Province

had found that 16 of the 36 tissue samples it tested contained porcine

circovirus and seven tested positive for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus,

another common disease in pigs. Yu Kangzhen, State chief veterinary officer of

the Ministry of Agriculture, was quoted as saying more pigs have been dying due

to poor or overcrowded environments and the cold rainy weather over the winter.

According to the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency, there were no

large-scale infectious diseases among the pig carcasses, nor have they found

any sign of zoonosis, which can be transmitted from animals to humans.

While media outlets were investigating the problem, they received

an order from the Central Propaganda Department on March 14 that prohibited

independent reporting or commentary on the issue. Instead, the media outlets

were directed to republish Xinhua’s report.

The IFJ’s Asia-Pacific office says: “The new Premier Li Keqiang

has said food safety is of the utmost importance. On March 17, on closing of

the annual legislative session, he stated that it is directly related to

people's health and quality of life. He further added that the media has an

important role to play in overseeing the operations of the new Cabinet.”

The IFJ urges Premier Li to investigate the issue and urges the

Central Propaganda Department to raise its ban on reporting and allow the media

to continue to independently report the problem. “Clearly people need access to

reliable information about the cause of massive numbers of pig deaths, how they

should protect themselves, and how the authority into to handle the situation.”

The IFJ urges the All Chinese Journalists Association of China to fight

for the right to exercise their professional duties.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000

journalists in 131 countries 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific