The proposed new law on dealing with emergencies is not designed to prevent
the truth being revealed, but to allow the timely release of accurate
information, said a senior official yesterday.
Under the law media outlets could face fines of up to 100,000 yuan
(US$12,500) if they "report the development and handling of emergencies without
But Wang Yongqing, vice-minister of the State Council's Legislative Affairs
Office, yesterday said that under the new law, it was local governments that
will shoulder responsibility for increasing transparency in the reporting of
Wang said governments should take responsibility because they have access to
the most information about response plans.
"The key lies in imposing a heavier obligation on the government and urging
it to release accurate and timely information, and provide a satisfactory
service for news media covering emergencies," he said.
Wang is the major official responsible for drafting the Law on Response to
Contingencies, which was submitted to the law-making Standing Committee of the
National People's Congress (NPC) for review last week.
He made the remarks yesterday at a news briefing organized by the State
Council's Information Office to allay concerns on an article threatening fines
for news outlets that report emergencies without authorization.
The 57th article stipulates "news media violating certain rules to report the
development and handling of emergencies without authorization, or releasing
fraudulent reports, will be fined between 50,000 yuan (US$ 6,250) and 100,000
yuan (US$12,500), if the reports lead to serious consequences."
The draft law defines emergencies as industrial accidents, natural disasters,
and health and public security crises.
In the past some regional governments have failed to report, circulate or
release information about an emergency, or have even issued false reports or
concealed information, said Wang.