China city officials apologise after authorities 'harass' journalists at blast site

China’s state media condemned the incident

China Sanhe explosion Chinese security personnel attempt to push Chinese journalists from the scene of an explosion in Sanhe city in northern China's Hebei province | AP

In a rare scenario, China’s journalists association on Thursday condemned and criticised the authorities for harassing media persons at the site of an explosion in Sanhe City, near Beijing. The state media criticised the authorities for pushing the journalists away, who came to report the deadly explosion that claimed seven lives. 

“Legitimate interviews are a journalist’s right...authorities should not simply and brutally obstruct the media journalists from performing their duties in a normal manner to control public opinion,” read a statement issued by All-China Journalists Association (AJCA), a communist party-backed group. 

Videos that emerged on social media revealed two men in black uniforms blocking the camera of a reporter from state television CCTV as she attempted to conduct a live interview. 

The locals also joined the police in blocking the media persons from entering the site. 

China blast site Firefighters work the scene of an explosion in Sanhe city in northern China's Hebei province | AP

Reportedly, the blast, that occurred in the northern province of Hebei on Wednesday, killed seven people and injured around 27 others. The suspected gas leak explosion had affected a series of buildings near the affected site. 

After raising harassment allegations, the city officials have issued an apology. A statement on the city official’s website expressed ‘deep regret’ over the treatment of the CCTV reporters and other media workers. 

The authorities also said that due to the suspected gas leak, they were concerned about the journalists and citizens and it was not an attempt to harm any. 

“The poor communication skills of our frontline staff and their rough and simplistic methods caused misunderstandings among journalists and doubts among the public, resulting in a negative social impact,” it said.

Due to concerns of social stability and national security, news is highly controlled in China. However, it is unusual for state journalists to be prevented from reporting in public. 

"If mouths are covered during a prominent public safety incident such as this, what can be said of other public incidents?” asked the association.

Earlier, there were instances of foreign reporters being harassed, including physically, by ordinary citizens who say foreign journalists are out to smear China's image. 


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