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CRACKDOWN: China’s Censors Scramble to Contain Online Fallout After Tianjin Blast

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Censorship rates on Weibo up tenfold after the Tianjin blast 

Eva DouEva-Dou reports: The Tianjin warehouse explosion has horrified and gripped China’s netizens, with the topic racking up more views on social network Weibo than the country’s total population of nearly 1.4 billion.

It’s also sent the country’s Internet censors scrambling to make sure online discussion stays within approved confines.

TIANJI-skybox-WSJ

Censorship rates on Weibo were up tenfold after the Tianjin blast compared to earlier in the month, said King-wa Fu, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s journalism school who built censorship tracker Weiboscope.

Censorship of traditional and social media is common in China after disasters and has actually been looser this time than in some other recent tragedies. Whereas China’s local newspapers turned into clones after the capsizing of a ship on the Yangtze River in June, Chinese media reports on the explosion in Tianjin’s Tanggu district have been more varied. Discussion of the topic has also been widespread on social media.

[Read more here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

But some online comments go too far, such as those that criticize the government’s response or discuss the chemicals inside the warehouse, which officials say they have not yet been able to identify. Those types of postings have been scrubbed, according to Weiboscope and another censorship-tracking site, Free Weibo. Read the rest of this entry »

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[PHOTO] Earthquake Strikes China’s Southwestern Yunnan Province

Xinhua:Zuma Press

This photo taken by cellphone on Sunday shows an earthquake-hit area in Ludian county in Chinas southwestern Yunnan province. A 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted the remote area at 4:30 p.m. local time Sunday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said…(see moreChina Real Time Report – WSJ

Xinhua/Zuma Press


Shock and Mourning as China Absorbs the Full Horror of Islamist Train Station Stabbing Rampage

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Mourning: People turned out in their droves to lay candles for the 29 murdered in Kunming station

Mourners and volunteers descended on Kunming today after knife-wielding attackers killed 29 people in a frenzied rampage.

By Mia De Graaf and Dan Bloom and Kieran Corcoran

The killers, four of whom were shot by armed police, launched the horrific slaughter at Kunming railway station in Yunnan province at around 9pm local time yesterday.

“I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could.”

Distressing photos circulating online showed bodies, pools of blood and abandoned luggage scattered across the terminal floor in the wake of what authorities termed an ‘organised, premeditated, violent terrorist attack’.

More than 130 people were injured in the frenzied attack last night, which has left China shaken

More than 130 people were injured in the frenzied attack last night, which has left China shaken

It is a small step towards comprehending the atrocity as officials try to uncover who was behind it

It is a small step towards comprehending the atrocity as officials try to uncover who was behind it

Earlier, volunteers descended on the city’s hospitals in Yunnan province to give blood for the 130 wounded

Today, hospitals were filled with citizens giving blood as dozens remain in a critical state.

Outside, candles were laid in heart shapes as the nation absorbs the shock of the event.

It is believed that more than 10 people took part in the attack. As well as the four who were shot yesterday, one was taken alive. The rest are still being hunted.

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Massacre: China Blames Separatists for Knife Attack; 33 Dead, 130 Injured

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KUNMING, China (AP) – More than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives at a train station in southern China, drawing police fire, in what authorities called a terrorist assault by ethnic separatists based in the far west, state media said Sunday. Thirty-three people were killed and 130 wounded.

china-knife-medicPolice fatally shot four of the assailants , arrested one and were searching for the others following the attack late Saturday at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Witnesses described attackers dressed in black storming the train station and attacking people indiscriminately.

Student Qiao Yunao, 16, was waiting to catch a train at the station when people starting crying out and running, and then saw a man slash another man’s neck, drawing blood.

“I was freaking out, and ran to a fast food store, and many people were running in there to take refuge,” she told The Associated Press via Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog. “I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could.”

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The attackers’ identities were not yet confirmed, but evidence at the scene of the attack showed that it was “a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces,” Xinhua quoted the municipal government as saying. Authorities considered it to be “an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack.”

The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by separatists china-knife-victimsamong parts of the Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE’-gur) population.

Most attacks blamed on Uighur separatists take place in Xinjiang, where clashes between ethnic Uighurs and members of China’s ethnic Han majority are also frequent. Saturday’s assault took place more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest.

However, a suicide car attack blamed on Uighur separatists that killed five people at Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate last November raised alarms that militants could be changing tactics and aiming to strike at soft targets throughout the country.

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In an indication of how seriously authorities viewed the attack – one of China’s deadliest in recent years – the country’s top police official, Politburo member Meng Jianzhu, arrived in Kunming on Sunday morning and went straight to the hospital to visit the wounded and their families, Xinhua reported.

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China’s Guangzhou to empty labour camps ‘by year end’

China's labour camps were set up in the 1950s

China’s labour camps were set up in the 1950s

The last 100 inmates are to be released from labour camps in one of China’s biggest cities, Guangzhou, by the end of the year, state media report. The city stopped sending new prisoners to the controversial camps in March. The police can send suspects for re-education for up to four years without a trial. China’s leaders have said they intend to reform the nationwide system – but labour camps still operate across most of the country. Read the rest of this entry »