BEIJING—On March 16, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held his annual press conference with pre-approved questions to ensure that topics forbidden by the Chinese communist regime were not touched upon by on-the-spot correspondents.
Nonetheless, a few foreign reporters raised topics not anticipated by the regime. The unexpected questions were later muted by almost all media.
Wen Jiabao's press conference took place shortly after the conclusion of the Fifth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Four to five hundred people, including security and order staff and Chinese and foreign correspondents, attended the conference.
The Chinese authorities took precautions to determine everything for the conference in advance. Only certain media agencies were invited, and all questions had to be submitted and given permission. The same procedures are also usually instated for press conferences held by senior officials.
Correspondents who knew the details of the situation did not raise their hands, while those unaware wondered why they were not called on despite raising their hands throughout the conference.
Although questions were examined and approved by authorities in advance, some foreign journalists nonetheless changed their questions to address unexpected topics.
A reporter from Le Monde touched upon the topics of Zhao Ziyang, a former Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party, and democratic reform in Taiwan today. He said after the conference, “These questions were not approved by [the authorities] in advance.”
During the press conference, Wen answered all the questions of the reporter from the World Daily with ease. The websites of the National People's Congress and other government media responsible for broadcasting the press conference skipped the topics of Zhao Ziyang and democracy reform in Taiwan. Since media worldwide did not cover those questions, it seems as if they have never been asked.