Chongqing Wang Lijun

February 10, 2012 by staff 

Chongqing Wang Lijun, Speculation over the Wang Lijun (ç?‹ç«‹?†›) case continues to fly across Chinese domestic social media today. Users of every description, including prominent journalists and academics, are sharing purported inside information — the possible involvement, for example, of a wealthy Chongqing businessmen who has now, some suggest, fled overseas.

Foreign media reports are being actively shared on social media like Sina Weibo and QQ Weibo, some with screenshot images that might stand a better chance of eluding censors. For example, many versions of a bilingual transcript of questions answered on Wang Lijun by US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who said, for example: “Wang Lijun did request a meeting at the US consulate general in Chengdu earlier this week . . . He did visit the consulate and he later left the consulate of his own volition.”

In stark contrast to Chinese social media, where as of Friday afternoon the keyword “Wang Lijun” remained unblocked, Chinese traditional media have been on lockdown.

According to the WiseNews database of Chinese newspapers, 37 articles on the Wang Lijun case appear in China’s press today — all of these, without a single exception, are verbatim versions of the official news release issued by Xinhua News Agency, which reads:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Answers Questions on the Wang Lijun Incident
Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, February 9 — The spokesperson office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to questions on the 9th that Chongqing Vice-Mayor Wang Lijun entered the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on February 6, and left after remaining there for one day. Relevant departments are now investigating this [matter].

The uniformity of today’s coverage of the China certainly suggests there has been a directive from the Central Propaganda Department instructing media to use only information from Xinhua (and perhaps the People’s Daily).

But how have papers dealt with the niggardly material available from Xinhua?

Newspapers, both Party and commercial, from different regions actually used the Xinhua release in slightly different ways. Many put the news deep in inside pages, giving it very subdued treatment. But 8 of the 37 newspapers actually did put the story on page 1. Three of these were commercial spin-offs of local Party newspapers, four were local Party newspapers, and the last, China Economic Times, is a paper published by the Development Research Center under China’s State Council:

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