Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship that the Chinese authorities have imposed on the media in the wake of the attack by people armed with knives on travellers at the main station in Kunming, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, on 1 March.
The following directive was sent to the media:
State Council Information Office: Media that report on the knife attack incident that occurred March 1 at the Kunming railway station must strictly adhere to Xinhua News Agency wire copy or information provided by local authorities. Do not treat the story with large headlines; do not publish grisly photos. Please respond to confirm that you have received this message. Thank you.
(Source: China Digital Times)
“We deplore this use of censorship after the attack,” said Reporters Without Borders research chief Lucie Morillon. “The media have been ordered to use only the official version provided by the national news agency Xinhua. This is intolerable.
“We call on the authorities to guarantee complete transparency about this incident and about progress in the investigation. It is vital that journalists should be able to work without any hindrance and that the public should have access to full, unrestricted news coverage.”
The censorship has elicited ironic comments from Chinese microbloggers. “It is as if nothing happened in Kunming,” Ye Taijin wrote. “If we didn’t have Weibo and WeChat, we would still be living in a happy world like the one presented on the evening new on China Central Television.”
The censorship measures recall those put in place after the last October’s incident in Tiananmen Square, in which a car was driven into pedestrians and caught fire.
China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.