Seismic Suppression: Chinese Censorship After the Sichuan Earthquake
Written by John J. Tkacik, Jr., Senior Research Fellow in China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, from the Heritage Foundation website:
Those who thought that the devastating Sichuan earthquake of May 12 brought out the best in the Chinese government should think again.
Six weeks after the quake, it has become obvious that the local government’s incompetence and venality was responsible for the collapse of schools while other buildings stood. But now that foreign reporters are covering the deaths of school children and the subsequent angry protests of their parents, Beijing’s Central Propaganda Department has reverted to its dictum that the only news fit to print is pro-regime news.
In order to suppress unfavorable news coverage, the Chinese government has adopted a two-pronged approach. First, Beijing has attacked the source of dissent, threatening any grieving parents who persisted in their protests. Second, the government has embarked on an extensive campaign of media censorship. For instance, foreign reporters covering the parents’ demonstrations in Sichuan were detained and deported from the towns where the protests took place. The Los Angeles Times notes that “web discussion groups have seen postings deleted” magically, as if by some unseen Web umpire. And The Washington Post notes that at least one web journalist, Huang Qi, along with two associates, was arrested for posting revealing commentary on the aftermath of the disaster.