Sichuan Quake to Haunt New Propaganda Chief Liu Qibao

A businessman-turned advocate says he does not trust China’s new Propaganda chief. Liu Qibao was appointed the new Minister of Propaganda this week. 2012-11-23 02:34 PM EST Last Updated: 2012-11-23 05:51 PM EST
A businessman-turned advocate says he does not trust China’s new Propaganda chief. Liu Qibao was appointed the new Minister of Propaganda this week, with his credentials as the Party chief of Sichuan province providing the necessary boost to get the promotion.

 

Wang Xiaodong says, after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Liu helped to cover up shoddy school construction that resulted in building collapses which took the lives of thousands of children.

 

[Wang Xiaodong, Sichuan Earthquake Activist]:

"I openly challenged Liu Qibao, it was a truth contending with lies."

 

State-run media has praised Liu Qibao for leading recovery efforts in Sichuan. But, Wang believes that it was Liu's heavy-handed approach against dissents that helped his career and this will continue with Liu's new role.

 

[Wang Xiaodong, Sichuan Earthquake Activist]:

"From what he has always done, and even with his bad track records in Guangxi and Sichuan, he’s been able to climb the ranks. So his instinct to lie will not change, he will not change just because he is the Propaganda Minister."

 

After the Sichuan quake, Liu Qibao and local authorities denied poor construction was the cause of the numerous school building collpases, but when Wang investigated, he was pursued by security officials. Sichuan authorities also sent several grassroots activists to prison after they tried to do their own investigations.

 

Wang says Liu Qibao may even surpass his predecessor, Liu Yunshan, in suppressing dissent.

 

[Wang Xiaodong, Sichuan Earthquake Activist]:

“He will have more tricks to target rights defenders like us. He’ll continue to lie, but he may change his cover, repackaging his lies as truths.”

 

Following the Sichuan earthquake, Wang Xiaodong began to collect data on local school constructions. In 2009, he reported the quality problems he found to the Communist Party’s internal discipline body in Beijing.  That angered Liu Qibao, who then sent security officials to monitor him across the country.

 

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