Media reporting suppressed following deadly explosion in Tianjin, China

The International Federation of Journalists strongly criticises Chinese authorities who continue to suppress and constrict media reporting following the deadly explosion in Binhai, Tianjin on August 12. The IFJ reminds the Chinese Government that journalists have the right to report on such incidents and the public also has a right to information.

According to Xinhua, the deadly explosion killed at least 50 people including 17 firefighters and injured over 700 people. The Fire Department of Tianjin released information stating that a fire broke out in a warehouse in Binhai New Area in Tianjin at 11 pm on August 12. Firefighters were attempting to extinguish the fire when there were two large explosions. Surrounding houses and buildings were severely damaged in the explosion and the local Environmental Department said that the blast contained several chemicals which could be dangerous to humans.

Information and reports of the explosion were not released until early on August 3 by the New Beijing Newspaper, which is directly controlled by the Beijing Propaganda Department. Media tried to access the scene by roads leading to the site were blocked by police. Some journalists gained access to victims in hospitals across the city, but there were reports that many had interviews interrupted and reporting outside the hospitals were also interrupted.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Any form of restrictions on reporting should be condemned as the media has a duty to report on incidents of public interest. The public also has the right to know, which cannot be controlled to suit the Government.”

“We also express concern for the delay in reporting the incident by local authorities. This response is a clear violation from the Regulations on Open Government Information.”

We urge Huang Xingguo, the Mayor of Tianjin Municipality, to ensure all media have the freedom of movement and rights to report on this incident.

We also urge all management of media outlets should give sufficient equipment to the frontline journalists to protect themselves while they are continuing exercise their duties to report.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries

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