Der Spiegel’s Bernhard Zand recaps the tragic November death of 5 homeless boys in Guizhou, and the official backlash faced by journalist Li Yuanlong after he brought the story to light:
Unemployed journalist Li’s report created so much pressure that the official media finally weighed in on the story as well. On Nov. 19, the government-owned television network CCTV contacted Li and asked him to find the garbage collector. On Nov. 20, Universal Children’s Day, state-owned news agency Xinhua published a report that even pointed out the contradiction between the deaths of the five children and Xi’s rousing words.
Now officials in Bijie released the names of the dead boys: Zhonglin, 13, Zhongjing and Chong, both 12, Zhonghong, 11 and Bo, 9, all had the same last name, Tao. They were cousins, the children of three brothers, two of whom were migrant workers in the booming city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. The boys had been left in the care of the third brother, who was struggling in the bitterly poor village where he lived. Conditions were so bad there that the boys had run away. The city of Bijie also fired or suspended eight officials, including the director of the elementary school the children had attended, and where they hadn’t been seen in weeks.
But the children weren’t the only victims. While he was doing his research for CCTV, state security officers parked their SUVs on Li’s street and knocked on his door. They told him that things had gone too far, and that the case had been solved and he should delete his blogs and stop working on the story. Li refused. They threw him and his wife into a car, took them to the provincial capital Guiyang and put them on a flight to Haikou on Hainan,
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