|By Geoff Dyer and Mure Dickie in Beijing|
|Wednesday, September 19, 2007|
China's top food and drug regulator has said media reporting of product safety problems in China should be encouraged but journalists' coverage must maintain a “positive” perspective.
Shao Mingli, commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration, said reporting on safety issues could help prevent future problems. However, in an interview with the Financial Times, he stopped well short of suggesting the media should have complete freedom to tackle scandals.
“As long as they take a positive attitude and are accurate, I think the media should play a full role and should not be restricted,” said Mr Shao, whose predecessor at the SFDA was executed in June for corruption. Reporting, he added, must “be good for stable social and economic development”.
Mr Shao's comments highlight the potential contradictions between government attempts to allow the media a wider watchdog role in an increasingly complex economy and preventing coverage that might undermine the ruling Communist party.
China's media restrictions have come in for heavy criticism as product recalls have created uncertainty about the safety of goods. Some foreign critics argue Beijing would find it easier to enforce safety rules if there were greater media freedom.
While the government has enlisted the help of international public relations agencies to deal with the crisis, many officials have blamed the foreign media for exaggerating problems and one local journalist has been jailed for allegedly faking a story about unsafe food.
Party censors can directly control coverage of sensitive issues by newspapers and TV stations, which journalists say helps prevent coverage of scandals that might threaten business interests.
Mr Shao said “reports of important issues will to some extent avoid the occurrence of some events”. But he added: “Practical analysis of potential cases is different from personal judgments.” He said his administration had moved to improve its transparency by holding press conferences.
译者/李碧波阅读本文章英文,请点击 China asks for ‘positive' reporting on food safety