Chinese Premier’s ‘Sick’ Claim at Train Crash Press Conference Questioned

July 29, 2011 2:17 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:04 pm
Plaid hats designate reporters asking softball questions at the train tragedy press conference. (Screenshot from
Plaid hats designate reporters asking softball questions at the train tragedy press conference. (Screenshot from

On the sixth day following the Wenzhou train crash, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended a press conference near the crash site. After it concluded, careful citizens were able to find several glaring inconsistencies in the official reports.

In the past few years, Chinese media has described Wen as the first of China’s high-ranking leaders to arrive in person at the site of any tragedy or accident in its attempt to promote an image of Wen as a leader who loves the people.

Concerning his delayed visit this time, Wen explained at the conference: “I have been sick recently and confined to my bed for 11 days. Not until today was I released from the hospital. This is why I could not show up at the crash site until the sixth day. I am willing to answer any of your questions.”

But alert viewers found numerous reports in state-run media of his attendance at various activities, including hosting a State Council session and meeting with the President of Cameroon.

After Wen answered questions raised by Xinhua and CCTV, the conference host said the final question would be reserved for Wenzhou media. A female reporter from the Wenzhou Daily asked, “Aside from the entrepreneurial spirit exemplified by people in Wenzhou, what spirit was displayed during the rescue efforts by all the various Party levels in Wenzhou?” Wen responded accordingly, “A spirit of great love.”

Wenzhou was famous for its local entrepreneurs who emerged after China’s economic reforms.

Quite a few reporters attending the conference said that they had anticipated sensitive questions about the Wenzhou train crash, such as the reason for burying the derailed cars so quickly, or the real death toll. But the question asked by the reporter from the Wenzhou Daily instead played into official propaganda themes.

After the conference, the reporter attracted more public attention than the conference itself and posts about it were widely shared online. According to one netizen, the reporter was Ma Yuying, who serves both as reporter and director of the economics section of the Wenzhou Daily. Ma is also a representative from Zhejiang Province to the 12th Communist Party Congress, a representative from Wenzhou City to the 10th Party Congress, and a member of the propaganda department of Wenzhou City.

From the TV broadcast observers could see that those given the chance to ask questions were wearing a plaid hat identical to that of Ma Yuying.

Read the original Chinese article.

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