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Censorship around party leader's ouster contributes to misinformation

(CPJ/IFEX) - March 27, 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship
By Madeline Earp/CPJ Senior Asia Research Associate

The sacking of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai has sparked some entertaining gossip this month, leaving journalists covering China with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports. The Chinese government blames the international media, not its own lack of transparency and comprehensive censorship apparatus, for the burgeoning rumors.

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Chinese information officials have played a key role in this mess. Internet censors have been working overtime to delete Chinese-language posts on all of these topics, international news reports and media analysts say. Chinese government spokespeople have been unforthcoming. "I am not aware of this case," the Foreign Ministry told the Daily Mail when asked about [Briton Neil] Heywood. But by tamping down the rumors, authorities are feeding speculation that they have something to hide.

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