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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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China cracks down on milk scandal victims

Posted by Author on January 2, 2009

By Kathrin Hille in Beijing, The Financial Times, January 2 2009 –

China moved on Friday to silence parents of victims of its tainted milk scandal, underscoring Beijing’s determination to quell unauthorised action in response to social and economic problems.

Zhao Lianhai, the organiser of a network of parents whose children fell ill after consuming baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, was detained as his group prepared to lobby the government for continued free testing and treatment for their children and other victims.

The crackdown came after the health ministry said the scandal and the business of compensation was ‘in principle over’. Last week, a court declared the bankruptcy of Sanlu, one of the dairy companies at the heart of the scandal. Sanlu’s former chief executive and some other accused officials are on trial for alleged breaches of the law.

Mr Zhao said he was being held by police at Tuanhe Farm conference centre, a compound outside of Beijing where police formerly held people who were to be sent to labour camps. “There are more than 20 police watching me here, and they are not letting me go,” Mr Zhao said when contacted by the FT on his cellphone. “I protest this illegal treatment.”

The parents’ network, which according to Mr Zhao has several thousand members, distributed its demands to the media on Friday, but 19 other parents who had come from several provinces to the capital for the occasion said they were helpless now that their organiser had been detained.

Several of the parents said that while their children had been tested for kidney diseases without charges, they had paid for part or all of the treatment themselves. “It is difficult to understand for us why [Mr] Zhao has been put away, because we are not seeking confrontation,” said Zhang Li, a mother from Fujian. “We believe in the government’s will and ability to deal with our problems, we just want to talk.”

The incident mirrors the treatment of parents whose children died in schools that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake last year. While the government pledged to help them and improve school construction quality, it quickly cracked down on attempts by the parents to organise themselves and demand compensation or investigations into the causes of the school collapses.

The Financial Times

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