August 2, 2011
IFJ Demands Reinstatement of Journalist Suspended Over China Disaster Reports
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands the immediate reinstatement of a China Central Television
producer who was suspended from his job over coverage of a high-speed rail disaster in China’s east.
The IFJ has learned that Wang Qinglei, producer of 24 Hours, was suspended on July 27 after the program’s host queried the Railway Ministry’s speedy resolution of the July 23
accident in which at least 40 people were killed. The host also questioned officials’ dismissal on July 26 of safety
concerns about China’s high-speed rail network.
“The IFJ calls on Cai Fuchao, Director of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, to investigate Wang
Qinglei’s suspension and ensure China Central Television unconditionally reinstates him immediately,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Another program, News 1+1, also on China Central Television, was suddenly taken off the network’s schedule on July 26 without explanation, after
criticism of a Railway Ministry spokesman on the program on July 25.
After six days of relatively unfettered media coverage of the disaster in Wenzhou, the Central Propaganda Department
issued an order to all media via a cell phone on July 29. It came after Guangdong Propaganda Department issued an order
on July 24 demanding six local media outlets remove journalists from the accident scene.
“Due to public opinion about the railway disaster becoming complicated, all media including sister newspapers, magazines
and websites should immediately play down the relevant report except to report information from the relevant authorities
and positively report the aftermath,” the order said. It added that “no further report and no commentary” were
On July 30, the Beijing Propaganda Department issued an order to all local media stating, “No report or commentary about
the company responsible for the signal system of the high-speed railway and local metro railway system.” The order also
reminded cyber-police to control the flow of information online regarding coverage of the accident.
“Directives to restrict reporting on the Wenzhou rail disaster are denying the public their right to be informed about
issues related to public safety,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The IFJ applauds those metropolitan newspapers and national media, including China Central Television and The Economic Observer, for keeping the public informed regardless of pressure from various authorities.”
The directives follow Premier Wen Jiabao’s demands that the Railways Minister prioritise public safety following the
The IFJ also urges Premier Wen to swiftly investigate the new restrictions on media and to order all propaganda
departments to desist from issuing such orders in the future.
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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