Making Themselves Heard

The Age has an in-depth report on the investigation of faulty vaccines and the journalists, including reporter Wang Keqin and editor Bao Yueyang, who risked their careers (and lives) to get the story out:

On Wednesday morning, The Age went to the China Economic Times headquarters in Changping, in Beijing’s northern suburbs, to learn more. Wang opened his office door looking agitated. ”I have some new information for you,” he said. ”We’ve just had a meeting and our chief editor has been removed.” Bao Yueyang, the chief editor, publisher and Communist Party boss of the newspaper, owned by the State Council’s Development Research Centre, had paid the price for commissioning and doggedly defending Wang’s report.

A Shanxi Health Department whistleblower on the story, Chen Tao’an, said he had witnessed the gross mishandling of vaccine vials, even after numerous complaints. He said he knew of about 150 Shanxi families who had complained that their children had been sickened by the vaccinations.

Bloggers likened the tragedy to the recent milk-powder scandal, where children died and hundreds were made ill due to a similar pattern of government-business collusion and cover-ups. Distraught parents were intimidated against pursuing their complaints and lawyers were punished for representing them. The vast security and propaganda system that trammels the Chinese media, and society more broadly, is designed to protect the Communist Party. But distinctions between the interests of the party and vested interests of individuals within the party are often hazy.