IFJ Condemns Retaliatory Suspension of Media in China

 

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the suspension of a

local newspaper by the local Beijing Government in alleged retaliation for

their investigations into the underreporting of the death toll from the storm

that hit in China’s

capital city on July 21 by the government’s Flood Control and Drought Relief

Headquarters.

  

According

to a Radio France Internationale report, The

Economic Observer -a weekly newspaper based in China’s

eastern Shandong province and with offices in Beijing

and Shanghai -

was ordered to “suspend” its work on August 6 by the local Beijing Government’s

Cultural Bureau. The reason given was that the paper was not a locally

registered media organisation, and as such was publishing illegally. Chinese

authorities confiscated all copies of the paper from vendors on August 4.

 

“It

is widely believed that the suspension of The

Economic Observer ispolitical

retaliation from the local Beijing Government”, a journalist from the paper told

IFJ. “The situation in the office is very tense. The punishment is clearly

because the newspaper disclosed that the local Government had attempted to understate

the death toll following the severe storm that hit Beijing on July 21. The government’s

inability to accurately calculate the death toll has raised questions of the

local government’s management abilities. Journalists have been ordered not to

speak publically with anyone.”

 

Five

publications were targeted by the Chinese Government’s Cultural Bureau under

the banner of a new campaign ‘fighting illegal publications”. The Economic Observer has been circulated

throughout Beijing

for a number of years and has a reputation for in-depth investigative reports

which drew great recognition and acclaim from the public and media industry.

 

“It

is very disappointing to see China’s

government use selective punishment to apply pressure to the media”, IFJ

Asia-Pacific said.

 

“The IFJ urges

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to investigate the latest attacks on the media, and calls

for China’s Cultural Bureau to unconditionally lift the suspensions recently

applied to Beijing-based publications as part of the ‘fighting illegal

publications’ campaign.”

 

Beijing was hit by a severe

storm on July 21 which killed approximately 77 people and

caused severe economic loss. The local government held a press conference but

warned media not to ask questions relating to the death toll. Following the incident, the Central Propaganda Department demanded all media

republish Chinese Government news agency articles on the incident and delete

critical online comments.

 

For

further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0918

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131

countries

 

 Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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