China’s new law for the media during emergency response

Published 5 July 2006

Chinese media must now have permission from local governments before reporting on the developments and handling of anything deemed a disaster by the Chinese government

The Chinese government has proposed a new law to control the media in times of critical disasters. The proposal mandates that any reporting of the development or handling of an emergency situation without proper authorization is subject to a fine. A senior official yesterday said that the new law is not meant to keep information and the truth from the public, but rather to keep the media from spreading incorrect information to the masses that may be wrong, and/or lead to further problems. The proposed fine for this law if media “report the development and handling of emergencies without authorization” is 100,000 yuan ($12,500).

Vice Minister of the State Council’s Legislative Affairs Office, Wang Yongqing said, under the new law, it was local governments that will shoulder responsibility for increasing transparency in the reporting of emerging disasters. “The key lies in imposing a heavier obligation on the government and urging it to release accurate and timely information, and provide a satisfactory service for news media covering emergencies,” he said. The draft law defines emergencies as industrial accidents, natural disasters, and health and public security crises. In China, a law usually goes through three rounds of reviews before it is passed by the legislative body.