On Friday, the Chinese government imposed what amounts to a near-total news blackout about about the July 23rd accident between two bullet trains near Wenzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. 40 people died and over 200 were injured in the crash, which officials say happened due to a signal that turning green instead of red. But families of those who died and were injured want to know if human error had anything to do with the accident. On Wednesday, says the Guardian, China’s state media said that more than 100 relatives of crash victims protested outside a railway station on and demanded to know the “true cause.”
Below is Chinese video footage of the crash:
Last week, the Guardian reported that the government had sought to control coverage of the accident in the media, with journalists ordered to report not about the actual details of the accident, but on “extremely moving” stories, such as about blood donations, with the overall theme about “great love in the face of great disaster. Then, last Friday, the Communist Party’s publicity department sent out an order: no reporting about the disaster except for “positive stories or information officially released by the government,” says the New York Times.
The result has been that newspapers have had to “frantically tear up pages of their Saturday editions, replacing investigative articles and commentaries about the accident that killed 40 people in eastern China with cartoons or unrelated features.” Many internet portals have also removed links to information about the crash. While the outcry continues on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which is blocked in China — about why the accident happened, about possible errors made in the rescue effort and about “why images from the site showed wrecked train cars being buried in pits even before investigators began their work” — the traditional news media has been silenced:
“Tonight, hundreds of papers are replacing their pages; thousands of reporters are having their stories retracted; tens of thousands of ghosts cannot rest in peace; hundreds of millions of truths are being covered up,” the editor of Southern Metropolis Daily, a privately owned newspaper based in Guangzhou, wrote Friday. “This country is being humiliated by numerous evil hands.” His post, on the site Sina Weibo, was later deleted.
“My story will not go to print today and looks like I will have to write something else,” wrote another journalist. “I’d rather leave the page blank with one word — ‘speechless.’ ”
The New York Times reports that some publications have gone ahead and published their stories about the train crash:
Photo of Honqiao Railway Station by triplefivechina
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