News / Asia

China's Censors Block Details on Environmental Protest

People run as riot police officers (back) try to disperse protesters against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guangdong province, March 31, 2014.
People run as riot police officers (back) try to disperse protesters against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guangdong province, March 31, 2014.
Five days after an environmental protest turned violent in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong, accounts of the events remain contradictory. What witnesses saw and posted online is starkly different from what authorities say happened.

Residents in Maoming, a coastal town about 300 kilometers South of Guangzhou, took to the streets to protest a planned chemical plant they say will harm the environment and feed corruption.

While their demands seem clear, there are many unanswered questions about what really happened after the march of more than 1,000 people turned violent last Sunday (March 30).

Accounts online say police used disproportionate force and beat some protesters to death. The government says it acted to safeguard public order and prevent the situation from worsening. Authorities also denied any deaths.

Ying Jiang is a lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Adelaide where she researches Social Media in China.

She says the incident highlights how fractured media in China can be.

"There are two different Chinas, one is the China who lives on social media, the other one is central official state media," she said.

Pictures uploaded on Weibo, China's twitter-like service, showed injured people, including a man lying in the ground with blood on his face and clothes.

Other pictures showed tanks on the street, as well as special force police charging the crowds.

Jiang says not everything on Weibo is accurate, but distrust against the government and official media makes people more likely to believe the worst.

"If it is a rumor, it still has the grounds or the basis for people to believe in this rumor," she said. Because people don't trust the government and just assume that this kind of thing would happen."

Yang Zhihui, an eyewitness reached by phone by VOA, says he ran into the protests after accompanying his wife to a nearby government office, where she was due to take an exam.

While waiting for his wife he saw some protesters becoming increasingly confrontational.

"There were a few students, young people probably in their twenties," he said. "They went to buy eggs and started throwing them towards the armed police. Then they began throwing bottles of water. This went on for about 20 minutes and then the police charged on and started beating people."

Yang says he saw at least three people being beaten unconscious. "I saw it with my own eyes," he said. "In one case a man was beaten and there was a lot of blood. He had been beaten so much that his head was almost cracked. He was not moving and the police would not let us near him."

Chinese media are effectively banned on reporting independently about sensitive events such as protests.

Newspapers based in Hong Kong have reported that after the clashes, authorities sealed off Maoming, and have requested that journalists show special permits if they want to enter the city.

On Thursday, the official People's Daily published an account debunking online rumors.

The article said reports by Hong Kong media that the protest led to 15 deaths and 300 people injured were false. It also said the suggestion that the army had intervened was false.

People's Daily reported the picture of tanks that made the rounds online was in fact years old and shot during regular military drills.

Li Xigen, a professor of media and communication at City University of Hong Kong, says, "They want to portray some kind of picture that it is not a big problem, everything is under control. That is the guideline for the state media to deal with this kind of issue."

On Thursday, four days after the clashes, the government held a news conference with selected media.

The local deputy security chief admitted that because of the chaos at the scene, police had accidentally injured some protesters. He denied reports of deaths but said that 15 people had been hospitalized, four of whom are policemen.

At the news conference, the deputy mayor said that the government will listen to the people's suggestions in deciding the future of the PX plant against which people protested.

Li Xigen says that the government has realized that online voices can become louder then the voice of officials.

"They learned that from many other incidents, the hard way, so now they changed the strategy, they turn to that platform to try their own voice to be heard," he said.

Yang Zhihui, the man who witnessed the protest on Sunday, says he does not trust what local officials are saying. He says the central government should make an inquiry on what happened.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
April 14, 2014 10:42 AM
Censorship and the lack of media freedom for domestic & foreign journalists is one of the biggest problems in China. It's why the average Chinese distrusts the official media and the CCP. Censorship only leads to more rumours and unrest b/c if people can't rely on news, they will come to their own conclusions or believe rumours. Censorship is not only illegal under the PRC Constitution but also hurts the govt as it contributes to the very instability the CCP fears.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs