Chinese media withhold reports of diplomat murders

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticizes the reporting by Mainland Chinese media following the shooting of three Chinese diplomats in the Philippines on October 20. The IFJ urges the Chinese government to investigate the reporting and ensures the end to censoring of media reports.  

On October 20, Song Rongjua, the consul general at China’s consulate in Cebu, the deputy consul, Sun Shen and finance officer, Li Hui, were all shot while eating lunch at a local restaurant. Sun and Li were killed in the attack after been shot in the neck. Song remains in hospital recovering from a bullet wound to the neck. Song, Sun and Li were dining with six other people at Lighthouse restaurant, a popular local spot for politicians to celebrate Song’s birthday. According to reports, a man and a woman, identified at Li Qing Li and Guo Jing, entered the private dining room and opened fire. Later they were detained at the Chinese Consular Office, where they worked alongside the victims.

Although the incident received widespread reporting in international and Philippine media, Mainland media downplayed the incident. Numerous online reports of the incident were immediately deleted, with one mainland journalist noting that: “some content is deleted because it relates to foreign affairs, so the media has to follow the tone of the authorities.”

China’s Mainland media often withhold reports on sensitive issues, and over the past year the scope of ‘sensitive issues’ has expanded extensively. In one stance, following the deadly explosion in Tianjin in August, Mainland media withheld important information, while journalists were also blocked from accessing the site and victims.

The IFJ said: “The Chinese government needs to stop interfering with the reporting of incidents of public interest. Withholding information and restricting access to information is a violation of basic human rights and press freedom. Such violations undermine President Xi Jinping’s leadership and government.”

We urge President Xi Jinping to demand the Central Propaganda Department, the Cyberspace Administration Office and the Foreign Ministry to stop censoring news reports and withholding information from the public.

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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