The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by reports that an order was issued by Chinese
authorities to stifle media reporting of the demolition of a school, rebuilt
after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan with funds from the Hong Kong Government, and
replaced with a commercial development.
On May 22, 2012, a mainland Chinese
newspaper, Southern Metropolis Daily,
reported that a rebuilt school in the city of Mianyang, in China’s southern Sichuan
province, was demolished and replaced with a dual-purpose commercial and
According the report, the Hong Kong
Government was one of the donors for the school’s reconstruction, but was
unaware that the school had been demolished and replaced. The rebuilt school was
only used for two years, serving approximately 300 students in that time. The Hong
Kong Government donated half of the 4 million Hong Kong Dollars (approximately
USD 500,000) used to fund the reconstruction of the school.
In response to mounting media interest
in the story, an order was issued by China’s Central Propaganda Department that
no independent reporting was allowed except for republishing of the story
published in Xinhua, the Chinese
Communist Party’s official newspaper.
On May 27, Xinhua reported that the Sichuan Government had confirmed that the
school was demolished without consultation with, nor consent from, the Hong
Kong Government. On May 28, the provincial government was reported as
disagreeing with the decision to demolish the school, proclaiming the decision
was “totally wrong”.
“The Central Propaganda Department continues
to act contrary to the statement by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that the public
has a crucial role in the supervision of government action”, IFJ Asia Pacific
“By limiting independent reporting on
the use of public and donated funds, the right of Chinese citizens to monitor
the performance of their government is undermined.
The IFJ urges China’s authorities to
lift its restrictions on the independent reporting of public interest stories,
such as the demolition of the school in Sichuan, so that the media is able to
support the public in exercising its rights to information.”
The Hong Kong Government has announced
that it is it is considering seeking the return of those funds provided in 2008
as aid for the construction of the school.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific