Chinese journalists suspended for reporting train disaster

Evidence of the crash was buried and newspapers were told to restrict reports to officially sanctioned or good news

Beijing

Two leading journalists have been suspended in China after their candid coverage of a train crash amid anger at the government for trying to muzzle critics of the country's vaunted high-speed rail project.

One of the journalists was reportedly suspended for his reports on the crash on 23 July, when a high-speed train ploughed into the back of a stationary one, killing at least 40 and injuring more than 190. He had questioned whether China was putting too much emphasis on technological advance at the expense of safety.

The government has faced a wave of criticism over what caused the crash, and the delay by the country's leaders in visiting the scene of the crash at the eastern city of Wenzhou.

Stung by the backlash, the government yesterday urged more openness in reporting disasters. A notice in the Communist Party's official organ, the People's Daily, and other outlets, said: "Grasp the need to openly and objectively release information about developments, government efforts, measures to protect the public and the results of investigations concerning major incidents and issues of major public concern," the policy paper said.

It came just days after crash evidence was buried and newspapers were instructed to restrict coverage to officially sanctioned or good news after premier Wen Jiabao finally visited the site.

Wang Qinglei, a producer on China Central Television's (CCTV) leading news show, 24 Hours, was reportedly suspended for his reports three days after the crash when he asked questions about the causes. "What can help China to form real 'stability', maybe we should create conditions to let all citizens and government officials speak the truth," Mr Wang wrote on the Weibo social network on 1 August. "Those always blocking or restricting can only bring out a superficial peace, but hide a bigger danger behind it. The voice of truth is the quality our country needs as it grows and matures."

Another CCTV journalist, Chai Jing, from China's top investigative show, News Probe, appears to have been suspended too, and was getting widespread support on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Her own Weibo site was blocked, and any articles relating to her fate have been deleted from her site and other online forums.

"Information authorities must realise that a tide has turned in China when so many news outlets join forces to report accurately – this kind of punishment solves nothing and strengthens the mistrust of the government's handling of emergencies and disasters," said Bob Dietz, Asia programme co-ordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In recent years the government has become more open about allowing coverage of disasters. Many Chinese people, for example, never heard of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, believed to be the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Recruitment Genius: .Net / SQL Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...

Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee