The restricted Chinese news media is suffering further draconian government controls as that country nears the Beijing Olympics 2008.Monday a bridge collapsed in southern China killing 41 construction workers.
China’s Central Propaganda Department ordered a media blackout on the bad news which exploded into a fist fight between police and the assembled media at the site of the bridge collapse on Thursday.
Reporters and media producers reported harassment and a total ban on bad news leaving the site. Chinese government leaders are adamant that in this pre-Olympic year, countries other than China and even the Chinese people themselves will not be reading or seeing bad news.
Reporters swarmed the tourist town of Fenghuang where the bridge had collapsed sparking an uproar between police and newsmen. Local people spoke to western media on the condition of anonymity.
We wrote a commentary essay for the Washington Times on August 8, 2007, under the headline “China: You Won’t Get the Truth.” China frequently says all the right things in public and then takes internal action to prevent dissemination of the truth.
The Assoaciated Press reported that, “The rough treatment given the media stands at odds with the responsible, concerned image China’s Communist Party leadership has tried to convey publicly in the wake of the accident and the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Officials from President Hu Jintao on down have promised a thorough investigation into the collapse and punishment for any wrongdoing.”
Control of the news is a central precept of communist governments. The theory is that if too much “bad news” is available to the general public that becomes an indictment of the communist system.
We followed the news from Vietnam for much of 2006, in anticipation of President Bush’s trip to Vietnam last November. I recall commenting to my Vietnamese-born wife: “All the news from Vietnam is terrific. In fact, the shrimp are bigger than ever and they are jumping into the fishing boats!”
During this spring and summer’s bad news about China’s tainted food and drug exports, China’s Central Propaganda Department put a lid on all internal reporting on the scandal, thus shielding the Chinese people from the truth.
Sources inside China have reported to Peace and Freedom that the current ruckus over the Chinese toy scandal is also being withheld from the public in China.
China also controls access to internet web sites available to the Chinese people. This makes it likely that when Chinese people search for news they only see news approved by the communist government.