Chinese Authorities Muzzle Media in Infant Murder Case
A 2-month-old baby boy named Xu Haobo was left unattended in a Toyota RAV4 in front of a supermarket in Changchun City early in the morning on March 4. The car was stolen and the baby subsequently murdered.
On March 5, a 48-year-old man called Zhou Xijun turned himself in to Changchun police and confessed to both crimes. Zhou said that after he drove the stolen car onto the highway, he discovered the baby on the back seat, and continued on to Gongzhuling City where he strangled the baby and buried him in the snow.
The baby’s mother was taken to the 208 People’s Liberation Army Hospital where she is being treated for a mental breakdown, according to Beijing News.
Thousands of residents gathered at Chuangyuan’s Wenhua Square on the night of March 5 to hold a candlelight vigil for baby Haobo. The lights were turned off around the square, and people stood in silence with flowers and candles spread over the snow-covered ground, China News reported.
While the community mourned the baby’s death, the official provincial newspaper, Xinwenhua News, remained silent. Instead the front-page news was a report about the “Two Meetings” in Beijing.
Liu Xiangnan, a former senior reporter with the Economic Observer, posted a message on his Weibo: “Little Haobo’s death has shocked the nation. Yet the major regional newspaper, Xinwenhua News, failed to report the tragedy and celebrated communist red on its front page.”
On the afternoon of March 6, an independent reporter named “Yingshidian” posted news on his Weibo about an order given by the Jilin Provincial Propaganda Department to silence local media regarding the Haobo murder case.
The order consisted of four parts: 1) Limit coverage of the issue–the murder is forbidden to make headlines, and limit any reports to a half page; 2) Use the standard report issued by Xinhua News Agency, and promote so-called “positive energy” about the police solving the case; 3) Do not criticize the authorities or report in an emotional tone; 4) Stop reporting on the case by March 6.
Many netizens were upset to learn about this order, and the Weibo post was later deleted, but has been reposted thousands of times with comments.
Actress Sun Haiying commented on her Weibo: “Judging by this cruel murder of a baby in Jilin Province, it is quite obvious that the education system in China over the past 60 years has created a society without humanity. People all over the world are coming to realize the wicked and evil nature of Chinese people. The annual ‘Two Meetings’ in Beijing should be axed.”
A netizen uploaded a video on Youku, a Chinese website similar to YouTube, of a statement by Li Chunkuo, the uncle of the baby’s mother. Li strongly condemned the police for not catching the car thief before he murdered the baby.
“We reported [the car theft] to the police at 7:20 am,” Li said. “And at around 9 a.m., the stolen car was parked near Yongfa Township Police Station at Gongzhuling City. The police have nationwide connections, yet two hours after we reported the incident, they let the thief escape right in front of their station. Why didn’t they stop the stolen car?”
Unconfirmed rumors are also being circulated that Zhou Xijun, the man who turned himself in, did so to cover for his son, Zhou Lei, who is the real killer and who is now on the run.
Translated by Frank Fang and Sophia Fang. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.
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