Eastern Star: Press freedom also sinks in Yangtze’s muddy waters

Want China Times
Date: 2015-06-09
By: Staff Reporter

Premier Li Keqiang bows his head before human remains recovered from the ship. Mainland media outlets are understood to have been prohibited from publishing this photo on June 4, the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. June 4 is evidently not a day a Chinese premier may be seen mourning loss of life. (Photo/CNS)
Premier Li Keqiang bows his head before human remains recovered from the ship. Mainland media outlets are understood to have been prohibited from publishing this photo on June 4, the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. June 4 is evidently not a day a Chinese premier may be seen mourning loss of life. (Photo/CNS)

The Chinese government has been accused of suppressing press freedom and manipulating the truth behind the Yangtze ferry tragedy in which more than 400 people died.

n a scathing commentary published on the news website of Hong Kong’s Oriental Press Group, Hong Kong-based reporter Dong Buliang accused the Chinese government of opportunism over the worst boating tragedy on the Yangtze since 1949. The Eastern Star, traveling upriver from Nanjing bound for Chongqing, capsized in freak weather conditions on the evening of June 1. Of the 456 people on board, only 14 are confirmed to have survived. Seven swam to safety by themselves while another five were pulled ashore by locals after floating downstream. Only two people were pulled alive from the ship by the more than 3,000 responders dispatched to the scene. Eight people remain unaccounted for as of noon on June 8.

Dong pointed to a slew of articles from state media in the aftermath of the tragedy aimed at praising the Communist Party, focusing on the efforts of the selfless rescuers and the resolve of the party leaders, declaring how lucky the Chinese people are to have such a caring government.

Dong alleged authorities sealed off the scene almost immediately and took swift control of how the media narrative was framed, including by preventing independent outlets from reporting on the incident.    [FULL  STORY]

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