Police Prevent State Media From Reporting on Yanjiao Explosion: “The Party Muffled Its Own Mouthpiece”

After an explosion caused by a gas leak destroyed a four-story building, killing seven and injuring 27 in Yanjiao, a commuter town located about 20 miles east of Beijing, reporters from state-media outlets China Central Television (CCTV) and China Media Group (CMG) rushed to report from the scene, only to be pushed away by uniformed police and guards. 

The video below, compiled by CDT Chinese editors, shows images of the destruction and videos of the CCTV and CMG journalists being hustled away from the scene:

The incidents resulted in public criticism of the heavy-handed tactics, an unusual statement in support of press freedom from the CCP-affiliated All-China Journalists Association, and a rare apology to the press by municipal officials in Sanhe. (Despite its proximity to Beijing, the town of Yanjiao is under the jurisdiction of Sanhe city, Hebei province.)

There have been other attempts to censor or distract from the story about the destructive explosion, the investigation into its cause, and public speculation that nearby subway construction might have been to blame. A now-deleted article by Phoenix Weekly journalists Zhang Nanxi, Xu Shuang, Yihan, and Lin Mengqing included interviews with many local residents, some of the injured, and the owner of the fried chicken restaurant that exploded, who denied that his restaurant had ever used natural gas. After the abruptly-terminated CCTV interview in which their correspondent was blocked by police, the state-media broadcaster immediately aired a news segment titled House Explodes in Pittsburgh Suburb, Two People Dead.” And a Weibo user in Xi’an who posts under the username 剥蒜先生 (bāosuàn xiānsheng, “Mr. Garlic-Peeler”) reported an incident of “cross-provincial police harassment.” He said that he received a call (audio here) from a man claiming to be from Yanjiao’s Xinggongdong police station. The caller asked Mr. Garlic-Peeler to delete a Weibo video he had posted of the CCTV journalist being blocked from reporting by police. When Mr. Garlic-Peeler refused, the caller said, “You’ll be hearing from us again,” and ended the call. 

CDT Chinese editors have collected some online comments from Weibo and Chinese Twitter about police impeding reporters from “Party mouthpieces” CCTV and CMG from doing their jobs. A selection of these have been translated below:

pifuzhinu113541: You won’t even let your “own people” go free, that’s brutal!

Batman_RHood: Is Hebei not under Chinese sovereignty?

mascoshdij:The Party muffled its own mouthpiece.

李昸: Turning against your own—it’s the law of nature.

yiwenbaby2: Looks like they’re trying to hide something. The official story seems sus.

奔跑在绿洲的蜗牛: Now do you get why Zhang Xuefeng advised students not to study journalism?

胡江波在北京: Let’s see how CCTV reporters defend their rights.

多少事付笑谈中123:It’s all America’s fault.

Seki-UltimateLover-: Now they’re even trying to shut up CCTV journalists. It’s state media’s turn [to be repressed].

antzheng:Hilarious that those police officers trying to “prevent further accidents” at the scene weren’t wearing any protective gear.

woyongdehuawei: The scene is dangerous, because those cops can run faster than anyone.

金牛童鞋: Lucky she was from CCTV. If it were anyone else, they wouldn’t have been so polite.

把拔坝霸: A cover-up with Chinese characteristics.

hanslight3: So the mighty Party-controlled media finally get a taste of the iron fist of socialism.

Seeseapee: On the quantum entanglement effects of the Pittsburgh suburbs and Yanjiao, Hebei.

fromshanghaic: Now CCTV reporters can enjoy the same treatment as foreign media. [Chinese]


Subscribe to CDT


Browsers Unbounded by Lantern

Now, you can combat internet censorship in a new way: by toggling the switch below while browsing China Digital Times, you can provide a secure "bridge" for people who want to freely access information. This open-source project is powered by Lantern, know more about this project.

Google Ads 1

Giving Assistant

Google Ads 2

Anti-censorship Tools

Life Without Walls

Click on the image to download Firefly for circumvention

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.