China: Severe flooding strikes Henan province
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The public broadcasting corporation issued a stern statement condemning the “attacks” on journalists covering the natural disaster in the Henan province. It said members of its news team had been subjected to death threats after a faction of the ruling Chinese Communist Party urged citizens to post on social media the whereabouts of the BBC reporters sent to cover the floods.
The Beeb said journalists from other media outlets had been confronted by locals in Henan who were “looking for the BBC team”.
It said: “Over the weekend a social media post by a part of the Chinese Communist Party called on citizens to post comments on the whereabouts of a BBC team covering the floods in Henan Province.
“The public comments below the post included death threats against our team.
“Journalists from other media organisations reporting in Henan were subsequently confronted by an angry crowd looking for the BBC team.”
It added: “There must be immediate action by the Chinese government to stop these attacks which continue to endanger foreign journalists.”
But the editor-in-chief of the Global Times lashed out at the statement and levelled a string of accusations against the BBC.
Hu Xijin slapped down allegations members of the Western press had been attacked and said the crowd’s questioning of them was not instigated by the Chinese government.
He tweeted: “Fact: Just several journalists from Western press were surrounded & questioned by onlookers in the street in Henan, and it was not a govt action.
“There were no attacks on any Western journalists.
“Btw, BBC is notorious in China for twisting facts and fabricating stories about China.”
Several journalists, including employees of AP and the Los Angeles Times, were among the group said to have been targeted by the angry locals in Henan on Saturday.
Alice Su, bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, said the crowd pounced on reporters in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan.
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She claimed she and her fellow journalists were “surrounded by an angry crowd shouting things like ‘this is China, get out of China!'”
She said she had spoken to many people in the city who were keen to relay their stories about how the floods had affected their livelihoods.
However, Ms Su claimed the crowd seemed “really angry and eager just to tell the foreigners off”.
She described it as “not a pleasant experience”.
Zhengzhou was badly hit by the floods which have displaced a record one million people in China.
Thirteen people drowned in a subway route in the city which had quickly filled with floodwater.
Some passengers filmed desperate farewell videos for their loved ones while they were stranded in water at chest-height.
Many survivors spent hours gasping for air inside a sealed subway carriage before rescuers arrived.
A 15-year-old girl who was among those caught up in the subway floods said: “For the first time in my life, I touched a dead body.
“For some reason, I was calm throughout the ordeal, because I refused to believe that this was my time to die.
Scientists have said this type of rainfall has not been experienced in Henan for 60 years.
As the clean-up effort got underway in Zhengzhou, the city was told to prepare for more floods.
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