As the controversy over the media clause of the draft emergency law continues, a page six article in today’s Southern Metropolis Daily offers a rather ambiguous clarification, if you will, of the People’s Congress position on the draft law and media-related portions. The statement, from People’s Congress information office spokesperson Kan Ke (阚珂), seems to be a direct response to the wave of attention harrying the media clause, which would set fines for “news media making bold to report on the handling of emergency situations in violation of regulations or issuing false reports”. One of the most interesting and debatable presumptions in this statement is that the government can all at once ensure “unity” (统一) and “accuracy” (准确). [PHOTO: Authorities at the site of a gas explosion in April this year, www.qjqjt.gov.cn police website].
The final paragraph is full of apparent contradictions, particularly for anyone approaching this issue from the standpoint of liberal press theory. But this seems to be an unsurprising affirmation of CONTROL as the heart of Chinese media policy. The government, in other words, intends to monopolize information, releasing so-called “accurate” information as suits it needs. If one reads this with the presumption the government always knows best in matters of public interest, the announcement is at least internally consistent. But this, of course, is exactly the issue at contention — we want to monitor you on behalf of the public, the media opposition are saying. Anyhow, here is the Southern Metropolis Daily story:
The Director of the Information Office of the National People’s Congress, Kan Ke, said China’s government has always placed a high priority on increasing transparency in the work of dealing with sudden emergencies. By building a relevant system [he said, the government] sought unity, timeliness and accuracy of information dealing with emergency management.
[Article here reiterates the text of the media clause, the nature of the proposed fines, etcetera] …
Kan Ke said that the draft had made stipulations in this area [meaning about news media] in order to further improve the system of information release for emergency situations and increase transparency.
Stipulations about management of reporting in the draft emergency law [Kan Ke said] are the product of years of work and experience and are consistent with current practice. The goal [he said] was to provide service to journalists and make their work more convenient, protecting journalists’ normal rights and interests in reporting (采访权益) while perfecting management and making media more timely, accurate, their stories reporting the true nature of the situation in order to better deal with emergencies, safeguard social stability and the public interest.
[Posted by David Bandurski, June 30, 2006, 1:07pm]