From a media standpoint, Urumqi riots seem to signal a shift in the manner in which reporters are allowed to cover “sensitive” events in China. Unlike, say, last year’s riots in Tibet, the relevant authorities in and out of Xinjiang very quickly made the decision to allow foreign and domestic media wide leverage in covering a very chaotic, very sensitive situation. They’ve even organized group reporting trips into the riot zones (for a needlessly snarky, but eminently useful compendium of stories from one such trip, see this Robert Mackey post at the New York Times Lede blog). Though some might view the new openness as an outgrowth of the darker side of the Control 2.0 theory put forth by the excellent David Bandurski at China Media Project (h/t this very good post from Evan Osnos), I’ve been here long enough to believe that (almost) all access is good access.
In that spirit – below, a very interesting email sent out to at least some registered foreign correspondents in China by a self-described non-profit in Beijing that specializes in facilitating media coverage (and which clearly has good relations with high and relevant quarters of the CPC). I’ll refrain from posting the organization’s name, though I’m some of my China-based readers will know who it is. Regardless, it’s a revealing and supremely confident example of just how the CPC – and its authorized, er, tour operators – are approaching this very fluid, very new moment.
There was a terrorist attack happened in the capitol city Urumqi of Xinjiang Uygher Autonomous Region in Northwest China on July 5th, 2009, leaving 156 people dead, 1080 others injured and more than 200 vehicles broken. According to the facts that Chinese government has found, the terrorist attack was organized and prepared. This incident attracted more attention of the foreign and domestic media. Up to now, more than 60 overseas media have sent journalists to Urumqi, capital of China’s Northwest Xingjiang Region, after a riot broke out in the city on July 5th.
“We disclosed information shortly after the incident. We welcome domestic and overseas journalists to come and see what happened,” Hou Hanmin, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang Regional Committee, said Tuesday. Please feel free to contact us if you wish to go to Xinjiang for covering this incident. We will provide you efficient and convenient interview service assistance in accordance with Chinese policy.
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[Addendum: Goodness knows we all could use some good news these days. Me, I just got it from B.J. Thomas, in this classic clip (with a shout out to someone who had to suffer through an inferior version over dinner).]