The Hong Kong Journalists Association Demands that the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Bureau withdraw its directive to mainland media to stop reporting on the Wenzhou rail disaster and stick to positive reports by the Xinhua News Agency and the authority.
The Wenzhou high-speed rail accident in which more than 200 people were killed and injured has aroused the concern of people all over the country. We need to learn from this horrific disaster in order to prevent a repeat of such an accident.
HKJA, however, has learnt that the CCP Propaganda Bureau has recently issued a directive to all mainland media to only run official versions of the accident.
HKJA is appalled by such a move and demands that the CCP Propaganda Bureau withdraw this directive and allows the media to report the truth freely.
HKJA understands that the Propaganda Bureau yesterday ordered mainland media, including online news websites, to tone down their coverage and keep to positive coverage of the incident. They should also stick to statements by officials and not to report on their own or make their own comments about the accident.
The sudden directive from the Propaganda Bureau caught the media by surprise, so much so that several news outlets had to remove between two to eight pages at the last moment.
Even the official Xinhua News Agency had to urgently notify subscribers to put on hold one of its articles which already been circulated. The withheld article cited bloggers’ scepticism about the official version and their demand that the truth be revealed.
The Propaganda Bureau had earlier informed the media that information relating to the accident should be taken from Xinhua News Agency and reporters already dispatched to Wenzhou by various media organizations should be recalled.
HKJA is appalled by such orders from the Propaganda Bureau. We strongly urge the Central Government to ensure that this order is withdrawn. No action should be taken against mainland journalists who have been reporting on this disaster.
HKJA states categorically that Premier Wen Jiabao on July 28 when visiting the scene said that “investigation into the accident should be open, transparent and monitored by the public and that the process should be timely, and based on accurate information.” The Propaganda Bureau’s directive obviously is not in line with what Premier Wen said. We urge Premier Wen to personally follow up on this issue and urge the Propaganda Bureau to withdraw its statement.
Hong Kong is the only place in China that enjoys freedom of the press. We urge the Hong Kong media to stick to their job of reporting the truth, accurately and without prejudice so that the whole world will know what is going on. It is all the more important as Hong Kong is now building its part of this high-speed rail to link up with the mainland system. We must ensure that the system is transparently safe.