China forbids foreign media to visit bird flu-affected areas

Reporters Without Borders is complaining that the CCP has banned the foreign press in Beijing from visiting regions hit by bird flu. This was another of the idiocies we all thought — and some of us knew — would be done away with as the Chinese leadership learned and grew from the SARS nightmare of barely one year ago. It was going to be a new age of openness.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today called on the World Health Organisation to press the Chinese authorities to lift a ban on visits to the southern regions hit by bird flu, which has been imposed on most of the foreign correspondents based in Beijing.

After preventing foreign journalists from freely covering the SARS epidemic, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Henan province, the Chinese authorities are again showing a lack of transparency in their handling of a health problem, the organisation said, calling for foreign correspondents to be allowed to report freely from the provinces affected by bird flu.

The ban has been imposed by the foreign affairs ministry and the authorities in the southern provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Guangxi.

As soon as the first cases appeared in these provinces at the end of January 2004, the authorities refused to give travel authorisation to most of foreign press in Beijing, including the European TV corporations ARD, France 2 and BBC. Officials told journalists that a press conference would be held “in a few days.”

Here comes the scary part. Is it just me, or does it sound like the government is using the Chinese reporters to paint a healthy, glowing picture of the afflicted areas, just as it did a year ago in Guangdong?

Meanwhile, dozens of journalists with China’s governmental press have been invited to these provinces to confirm that “the authorities and peasants have proceeded with the elimination and cleanup of chicken-farming.” The propaganda department has also called on the editors of the leading Chinese news media to announce that the epidemic is under control.

In recent years, Reporters Without Borders has registered dozens of cases of arrests and censorship of foreign journalists when they tried to investigate public health problems such as AIDS and SARS in China.

So what’s going on? Is there really more freedom of the press? I mean, really really?

The Discussion: 9 Comments

Just take a look over at Xinhua’s English language news page, and you will find the following list of news headlines. As far as I am concerned with such blanket news coverage with a universally positive slant, they might as well be waving a big red flag saying “we’re lying, we’re lying”.

China confident of curbing bird flu: minister
More Related:
·Three features for bird flu in mainland
·Chinese government attaches great importance to prevention and control of bird flu
·Local governments capable to act as central authorities require on bird flu
·China takes measures to prevent transmission of BF to human beings
·China reports, diagnoses bird flu according to law: official
·China adopts effective measures to control bird flu: official
·Egg supply not limited in China
·China has no human infections of H5N1 strain bird flu: official
·China determined to improve animal epidemic control ability
·China has established sound communications to curb bird flu
·Human-use H5N1 vaccine will be produced six months later

February 5, 2004 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Adam Morris, at the China blog Brainysmurf, takes note of a new “experimental political structure” that Adam apparently believes promises real reform in China. Billed as “inner-party democracy” (i.e., the guards get a vote over how to manage the …

February 5, 2004 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

Li En, that is a fantastic find. Priceless. It is a virtual replay of the “No SARS in Guandong” reports from last March, with doctors quoted and tourists saying how thrilled they were to be in China “now that it has been proven SARS is a thing of the past.” Ha.

February 5, 2004 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

Reminds me of the China Daily headlines we read during the Foot and Mouth crisis in the UK.
Monday’s headline: China to check all cows for signs of foot and mouth disease.
Thursday’s headline: All cows checked. China does not have foot and mouth.
Laugh? We wept.

February 5, 2004 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

Sounds like Reporters Without Borders encountered a border.



February 5, 2004 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

I pointed out a while ago that Guangdong had received truckloads of propagandists around the turn of hte new year.

it’s hype.

February 5, 2004 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

why is this happening again?

February 6, 2004 @ 12:35 am | Comment

dodo, it’s happening again because this is the only way the CCP knows how to do things. If something might make them look bad they must stifle coverage of it. Just as they did with SARS. They are a broken reord.

February 6, 2004 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Dodo, Richard is right. The CCP lies. That is their nature. You might as well ask fish not to swim and birds not to fly, as ask Beijing to stop pervaricating. Indeed, the entire government is built on lies, to stop telling lies would mean the end of the regime.

February 6, 2004 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

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