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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China says Xinjiang riot media openness a success

August 3, 2009

Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:10am EDT

By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's central and regional propaganda offices have
concluded that their strategy of media openness following ethnic riots
in the far western city of Urumqi was a success, the Xinhua news agency
said on Friday.

A central and local task force convened shortly after the July 5 riots,
as foreign media flooded in to cover the aftermath of Uighur attacks on
Han Chinese in Urumqi following a protest over the deaths of Uighur
workers at a factory in south China.

The access for foreign media in Urumqi was in marked contrast to a
blanket prohibition on travel to Tibetan areas after last March, when
demonstrations across the plateau followed deadly riots in Lhasa on
March 14.

"Openness stemmed from confidence, rumors were stopped by truth, by the
rapid and wide dissemination of truth," Wang Zhen, the vice chief of the
Communist Party's Propaganda Department and director of the State
Council Information Office, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Foreign ministry officials have conveyed similar satisfaction about
overall media coverage of Xinjiang this month, although individual
reporters and media organizations have been scolded for what Chinese
officials see as "biased coverage."

Chinese media and Internet commentators have also accused Western media
outlets of bias against China when covering Tibetan or Uighur issues.

The Chinese decision to work with foreign reporters was based in part on
the negative coverage of Chinese handling of the Tibetan unrest, as well
as on the overwhelmingly sympathetic coverage when nearly all controls
on domestic and foreign reporting were lifted after the May 2008 Sichuan
earthquake, sources have told Reuters.

In the week after the riots, foreign reporters were largely free to
travel and interview in Urumqi, where 197 people died and over 1,000
were injured. Over 1,500 people have been detained, although none has
been formally charged.

However, foreign reporters traveling to the historic Uighur city of
Kashgar, in the south of Xinjiang, were prevented from leaving hotels
and escorted to the airport in the week after the riots. Reporters
returning to Xinjiang in July found locals were required to immediately
report their presence to authorities.

Some foreign tourists with previously planned trips to Kashgar have also
had their flights canceled.

Foreign travelers were barred from any Tibetan areas for most of the
remainder of 2008, devastating the region's tourism industry, and again
during the one-year anniversary this March.

Most foreign NGOs working in Lhasa have been forced to leave Tibet since
the demonstrations, NGO sources said.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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