Beijing, China | China said on Thursday that 99 people had died in floods last week in the country’s center as the communist regime criticized foreign media.
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Earlier in the day, 73 people were reported dead, but 26 more bodies were found in Henan province, local officials said.
Heavy rains lashed the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, on July 20. In three days there was almost the equivalent of about a year of rainfall, which was unprecedented in six decades of weather.
The subway train was swallowed, killing at least 14 of the 500 passengers trapped in the jam.
Covering these events, several foreign reporters were even targeted by some suspicious, hostile residents, accusing them of wanting journalists to show China in a bad light.
The AFP group was surrounded by about twenty people, some of whom demanded the removal of the images.
When asked on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian indirectly justified the behavior, saying it was due to the “misinformation” constantly being spread by “some Western media”.
A BBC reporter was specifically targeted on social media by the provincial committee of the Communist Youth League, which called for a monitoring of his activities – a message was later withdrawn.
Zhao Lijian journalist, in a statement on the floods, accused the Chinese government of “neglecting its efforts to organize relief and the courage of the people to save themselves.”
A BBC spokesman said “there is no love or hate without reason” and accused him of broadcasting “false news”.
Deutsche Welle, a German radio journalist, mistakenly thought he was a colleague of the BBC and was attacked by residents.
The British media group protested the protest, as did the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC).
“The speeches of organizations affiliated with the ruling Communist Party directly threaten the physical integrity of foreign journalists in China and their freedom of expression,” the FCCC said.
In response, Mr. Zhao ruled that the BBC deserved “its popularity among the Chinese” and accused the FCCC of “distorting the facts and providing a harsh view of the press work environment in China”.
“As long as foreign journalists respect the law and report in accordance with the laws and regulations, there is no need to worry,” the spokesman stressed.
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