China’s media have been ordered to back off in reporting on a case involving three Chinese Communist Party officials accused of raping a young woman and how she fought back, killing one of them.
The news of how Ms. Deng Yujiao, an attendant in a Karaoke bar in Badong County in Hubei Province, was assaulted on May 10 by the officials and tried to defend herself has attracted great attention, and sympathy, in China. The news media initially echoed the public’s sympathy with Deng and defended her actions. In addition to Xinhua, almost all of the official Chinese media took her side, and the official who was killed received little sympathy.
Xinhua’s defense of Deng and accusations against the three officials is almost unprecedented. The last time the official Chinese media took a different standpoint from the regime was for a short time in reporting on the Tiananmen Square massacre 20 years ago.
On May 22, the Internet Bureau of China’s State Council Information Office sent an urgent notice to every major Internet news network. The Bureau ordered restrictions be put in place and to “quickly cool down on reporting Deng’s case.” The Propaganda Department of Hubei Provincial Committee also ordered the provincial media to restrain reports on Deng’s case.
The State Council’s notice said in part: “all related topics and documents can not be front-page stories or be treated as important news”; “water it down and process it as regular news”; “the news sources should be strictly restricted and should not copy articles from outside of the allowed sources”; and “the number of opinions that can be posted following such stories should be limited and the opinions must be reviewed before posted online.”
After Deng had reported the attack on her, the police arrested her. After she was arrested, the police reported she was “depressed” and she was put in a mental hospital. According to media reports in China, the claim Deng had psychiatric problems was untrue.
The police had also tried to deny a rape had occurred. The Badong Public Security office had announced that Deng had just been pushed over or pressed down. According to reports from Nanfang Daily and Guangzhou Daily, however, Deng wasn’t just pushed over or pressed down. Deng told the two attorneys representing her, Xia Lin and Xia Nanhui, that she was sexually assaulted.
After leaving the detention center where Deng is currently being held, the lawyers described the case as cold-blooded, “She provided me details of the assault and the evidence is enough to convict the officials of rape.” According to her lawyer, the police made substantial mistakes in collecting evidence. The police left important evidence, the underwear Deng had on the day, to her mother.
Nanfang Daily quoted Deng's lawyer as saying, “The police did not collect evidence until May 22, 11 days after the incident. On May 22, the police sealed Deng’s underwear as evidence after Deng’s mother had washed all Deng’s clothes from that day except her bra. The day her mother washed her clothes, May 21, was also the day Deng’s lawyer first me with her. All key evidence was most likely destroyed.”
According to the media report, before Deng’s mother washed her clothes on May 21, she received a phone call from Director Tan Jing from Yesanguan Police Station and met with him.
On May 23, the Badong County Press Office released a statement saying that Deng wasn’t raped and Deng’s mother Zhang Shuhai was no longer employing Deng’s lawyers.