MONTREAL, Sept. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned a three-month ban slapped on financial weekly China Business Post,
accused of having broken the law in an article on the Agricultural Bank of
Elsewhere, the Propaganda Department is still keeping tight control over
news linked to the toxic milk scandal. An investigative journalist has been
gagged from reporting on the issue since July to avoid embarrassment during
the Olympic Games.
"While there is growing concern about the international banking crisis
and the toxic milk scandal, it is appalling for local and national officials
to try to censor media who are only trying to carry out their job of informing
"We call for the lifting of the temporary ban on the China Business Post
and for the end to censorship of the milk scandal. Without these steps, the
credibility of government promises of transparency will again be tainted", the
worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The China Business Post, which sells 400,000 copies weekly, was suspended
for three months on 8 September by the press and publications bureau of Inner
Mongolia in northern china, where it is licensed.
Following negotiations, the newspaper was able to appear as usual on
11 September, but the 18 September issue was banned. This sanction followed
complaints from leading officials in Hunan, southern China and from the
Agricultural bank of China. The weekly in July accused the Changde, Hunan
office of the public bank of poor management of assets.
According to the authorities, the Beijing-based weekly violated a
regulation that bans the media from publishing an investigation into an event
in a province other than that in which it is licensed. The authorities also
considered that the China Business Post should have questioned the
Agricultural Bank of China before carrying the article. Officials in Inner
Mongolia justified their decision by citing other investigations by the
financial paper which reportedly violated the same rules.
Press magnate, Bruno Wu, owner of the title through the Sun Media group,
told the Financial Times, that there had been an "abuse of administrative
power". He told the paper's staff on 24 September that he had decided to
suspend publication of the weekly indefinitely to protest against the
decision. A source at the paper also told Reporters Without Borders that an
appeal had been lodged with the competent authorities.
At the same time, the Propaganda Department has strengthened its control
over the information available in the media and online about the contaminated
milk which has caused at least four deaths and made thousands of other Chinese
Several Chinese journalists have said that it is becoming more and more
obvious that the authorities in July prevented an investigation into the toxic
milk coming out so as not to tarnish China's image before the Olympics.
He Feng, a journalist on the weekly Nanfang Zhoumo, was censored in July
when he had obtained worrying information about the public health effects of
the milk produced by the Sanlu company. Again, on 13 September, an article by
He Feng on the responsibilities of milk companies was pulled by the weekly's
A Propaganda Department circular of 12 September warned that it was in
the interests of media and websites to limit publication of articles or
commentary on the milk products scandal.
Finally, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders revealed that economist, Qi
Yanchen, who had already been imprisoned from 1999 to 2003, had been summoned
by police after he criticised the authorities' management of the scandal in an
interview with Radio Free Asia.
For further information:
For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, firstname.lastname@example.org