Authorities in China have imposed censorship controls on domestic media reporting on this week's deadly bomb blasts in Guangxi Province, which claimed seven lives and caused more than 50 injuries on the eve of National Day.
A notice from the central propaganda department, issued on Thursday, restricts all Chinese media including social media from sending reporters to Liuzhou or publishing special coverage while another notice by the cyberspace administration bans the use of close-up shots of the blast scenes.
“Republish only authoritative sources such as Xinhua News…Violators must immediately redress this and delete” their posts, read the instructions, cited by China Digital Times, an independent news agency that reports on censorship policies.
Search keywords related to the explosions or the suspect on news portals and social media such as Weibo have since been heavily censored despite the police has determined the blasts to be “criminal” in nature.
Critics say that it’s common practice for Chinese authorities to mitigate the spread of bad news or the possibility of rumor-mongering, especially when the blasts occurred at a sensitive time ahead the National Day celebration.
They also fear the bad news could trigger political repercussions or hurt the government’s reputation as it shows how ineffective the government has been promoting the rule of law, Hong Kong-based columnist Willy Lam argued.
“It’s one more example of disgruntled citizens using private and very violent means to vent their frustration because they have no recourse to justice vis-a-vis serious problems with the Chinese courts, which are heavily politicized,” Lam said.
He added that Chinese people have lost faith in its judicial system, which is especially the case in rural areas such as Liuzhou, where courts are likely under the Communist Party’s control.
With regard to the investigation of the blasts, authorities in Liuzhou provided no updates on Friday.
But they have identified 33-year-old Wei Yinyong from Dapu township to be the key suspect and put him on the wanted list.
According to a police notice, published by the Southern Metropolis Daily, Wei is a local from the Qinjian Village of Dapu. He used to work at a nearby quarry and had once traveled to Thailand in early December.
Another report from the daily said that Wei was a dynamite manager at the quarry, where his father-in-law and wife also worked. He was once put behind bars for a year for having had posted online comments, which were convicted of “disturbing public order.”
Prior to the blasts, Wei was found to have posted radical comments such as "It’s time for killing. It’s the local government, which has forced me to resort to this mean,” local media reported.
Meanwhile, two of those injured told the daily that they were respectively given money to deliver packages for a stranger. One said that the package exploded after he opened it per the designated recipient’s request while another said that the package exploded after he returned back to his car when he couldn’t locate the designated recipient in a primary school.