Reports on Death of Children Highlights Repression of Journalists in China
Since the discovery in mid-November of the bodies of five young boys in China’s Guizhou province, the Chinese leadership has sought to distract attention from the case. Reporting on the deaths by SPIEGEL was also hindered.
On Nov. 15, 2012, seven men stepped onto a stage in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. One walked over to a lectern decorated with flowers to face the cameras and microphones. The Communist Party had just named him its general secretary, he said, and the “heavy responsibility” of ruling China now rested on his shoulders and those of the six other men.
The appearance of Xi Jinping, the country’s designated leader, took most of the international correspondents in attendance by surprise. He apologized for being late before going on to praise the “friends from the press” for being so “dedicated, professional and hard-working.”
It was an unusual message in a country in which journalists work under difficult conditions. A reporter with the Al-Jazeera news network was forced to leave the country in May, and Chinese authorities blocked access to the website of business news agency Bloomberg in June and that of the New York Times in October. In August, correspondents for German publications in China asked Chancellor Angela Merkel to press the Chinese to improve working conditions for foreign journalists in the country.
Many Chinese reporters were also impressed by Xi’s speech, which differed from those of his predecessors. “Our people have great enthusiasm for life,” he said, among other things. “They wish that children will grow better, work better and live better.”