CHINA / National

Law 'will ensure accurate info'
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-04 06:02

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 authorization."

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 emerging disasters.

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.
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