IFJ Urges Free Reporting of Chinese Politburo Changes


The International

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



“Furthermore, the

editorial article also had to be in line with the message carried by the

Central Committee.”


“The Propaganda

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.


“Disclosure of

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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