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Opinion / Opinion Line

Finetuning the language of official releases

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-08 09:07

An explosion in Shandong Binyuan Chemical Co Ltd in Lijin county, East China's Shandong province, killed 13 people, some of whom were blown to bits. However, in a media release the local government said that "the relatives of the victims are in a good, stable mood", which is a common practice in official comments after a disaster. The sentence provoked nationwide criticism. Comments:

Who needs the families to be "in a good, stable mood"? Officials, of course, because they want to prevent a probe into the cause of the disaster and so hide their failure to follow the safety regulations. When the local government uses this notorious sentence, it is actually intended for their colleagues and superiors, instead of the public, which wants to know the truth.

Beijing News, Sept 7

Coldblooded sentences used to be quite common in local governments' news releases when the public had no other access to information and they could tell lies to hide their mistakes. Now that we live in the Information Age, will the bureaucrats be a little more practical and forget their past dominance over information?

Xu Shaolin, writer and commentator, Sept 6

At the request of the top leadership, one local government after another has adopted new media as the channel for official comments after a disaster. However, the officials operating on the new platforms are still following the old bureaucratic style and their language is jus as coldblooded as before. If local governments mean to catch up with the new technologies, they need to change their attitudes.

xinhuanet.com, Sept 6

Who is responsible for the explosion? Why did it happen and what were the 13 victims doing when it happened? Is the chemical plant too near to residential households? The local government did not answer any of these questions and simply rushed to pass the buck. It is time it faced up its responsibilities.

rednet.com, Sept 7

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