Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disappointed by the manner in which China’s Central
Propaganda Department has censored media reporting on the political scandal
involving former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai and former
Vice-Mayor Wang Lijun.
On April 10, the
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China announced that Bo had been suspended
from the Central Committee Politburo and was suspected of being involved in
serious discipline violations. On March 15, Wang Lijun was also
demotedfrom his position in Chongqing.
At the same time, Bo’s
wife Gu Kaili and a staff member employed by his family, Zhang Xiaojun, are under
suspicion of involvement in the death of Neil Heywood, an English business
person who died in China in November 2011. Xinhua
NewsAgency, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist
Party, has reported that Gu and Heywood had fought over economic interests. The
case had now passed to China’s Ministry of Justice for investigation.
However, media reports
in China have not provided the reason for Bo’s suspension from the Politburo,
nor explained which disciplinary procedures he had violated.
“As usual, we were
ordered to use the official Xinhua article as the basis of our reports, but
this time was different,” one journalist told IFJ. “The number of articles that
media outlets were able publish was also decided by the Central Propaganda
editorial article also had to be in line with the message carried by the
Department has very successfully manipulated media reporting of the Bo Xilai case.”
When the controversial
case of the dismissal of Chongqing political heavyweights Bo and Wang erupted
in early February 2012, the media was ordered not to publish individual news
reporting about the pair. Similarly, all website operators were ordered to
delete all rumours relating to them from their websites.
However, as the Chinese
Central Authority did not release information immediately on the case, as
required under the country’s Disclosure
Information Law, the internet was flooded with rumours on the topic. A number
of netizens received administrative punishment for forwarding these “rumours”.
Three major Chinese websites were also suspended from allow comments on their
sites by users for three days.
Information is the key to strong and transparent governance, in particular for
stories of great public interest,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.
“The Media has a duty
to report and investigate such cases, rather than merely republishing
information released by authorities.”
The IFJ urges China’s
Central Politburo to better respect the duty of the media to keep the public
informed, rather than simply act as an instrument of state propaganda organs.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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