A fascinating story in today’s South China Morning Post in Hong Kong about the mainland China censors putting the kibosh on any coverage of the train crash that killed about 40 people. The timing of the hypocrisy is exquisite: the country’s premier, Wen Jiabao, visited the crash site three days ago and vowed transparency and openness in investigating how and why it happened. A day later the government’s censorship department banned all reporting and publishing on the crash.
Specifically, the department wrote: "After the serious rail traffic accident on July 23, overseas and domestic public opinions have become increasingly complicated. All local media, including newspapers, magazines and websites, must rapidly cool down the reports of the incident.
"[You] are not allowed to publish any reports or commentaries, except positive news or information released by the authorities."
Mind you, this kind of censoring of the country’s newspapers, magazines and websites goes on every day, but this edict was so last minute that some newspapers had only a couple hours to find replacement material for seven or eight pages. It’s also a topic that’s been roiling the Chinese public. That public