July 22 — The news page at QQ.com was dominated by media-related stories. There was foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao (刘建超) denying suggestions made by some overseas media that Olympics security procedures discriminated against certain groups of foreigners, including Africans and Mongolians. There was the news story from the Global Times about how Germany’s Stern magazine had offended the Chinese people with its map of China. But topping the list of news stories, with a big headline splashed across the page, was news, re-run from Xinhua News Agency’s International Herald Leader, that scores of formerly taboo foreign publications were now available in the capital, thanks to the approach of the Olympic Games. “The Olympics are coming! Foreign publications are coming too!” the article gushed. [More from CMP].
July 23 — The case against Yang Jia (杨佳), the 28 year-old Beijing man allegedly behind a July 1 stabbing spree in which six Shanghai police officers were killed, drew numerous questions on the Web and in China’s editorial pages, not least the whereabouts of Yang’s mother, who was reportedly carted away by Shanghai police in Beijing on the day of the attack to “cooperate with the investigation.” The critical question concerned information, transparency and accountability.
July 25 — The Beijing News, one of China’s leading professional newspapers, has committed what by propaganda department standards is a serious violation of propaganda discipline by printing a photo of injured Chinese being carted away during the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen crackdown. CMP will watch this event closely as it unfolds, but the case certainly puts party leaders in a unwelcome bind. By propaganda standards, the newspaper’s action is resolutely unacceptable. But the Beijing Olympics are just around the corner, and this could potentially turn into a firestorm more serious than the January 2006 Freezing Point affair — bringing the events of June 4 right back to the center of China’s international image.