On June 26, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that the draft law on emergency management stipulates that a fine between 50,000 rmb to 100,000 rmb may be imposed on media that breaches government regulations in reporting emergences.
On June 29, Kan Ke, a spokesperson of the NPC, told the media the aforementioned clause was designed to improve the information-release system for emergencies and increase transparency. He said the stipulation is consistent with current practice and promises to provide “service and convenience” for reporters, allowing the media to report practical conditions in a timely and accurate fashion. In fact the fine threat to media is only one of the penalty possibilities for prohibited actions in the draft law, which has long been expected since the outbreak of SARS in 2003. Clearly an implied (but loud) plea for help from the public, many newspapers made this clause the headline of the whole story. Despite ingrained fear of government retaliation, dissent has appeared in a very significant way. [Full Text]