China stifles discussion of deadly Tiananmen crash

China stifles discussion of deadly Tiananmen crash
Police cars block off the roads leading into Tiananmen Square after a vehicle crashed into crowds in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing.

BEIJING - A deadly car crash in Beijing's central Tiananmen Square received muted coverage in Chinese media Tuesday, as a vast censorship apparatus suppressed unofficial accounts of the incident.

Newspapers across China carried news of Monday's crash - which killed five people and injured dozens - low down on their front pages and ran brief reports from state-run media, highlighting official efforts to control discussion of the incident, which struck at the symbolic heart of Chinese state power.

Chinese media outlets are known to receive direct instructions from the government directing their reporting of events deemed threatening by the ruling Communist party, which in recent months has moved to tighten controls over all forms of media.

The Beijing News, generally an outspoken paper, gave priority to reports of a protest by doctors in eastern China. Like other newspapers, it did not run a report of the event by its own journalists, and republished an account from the official news agency Xinhua.

The state media reports, carried by all major newspaper and news websites, stressed official rescue efforts and did not contain information about whether the incident was deliberate.

An outspoken news website, Uighurbiz.net, said that a journalist in China received a government order that: "No content, pictures or video can be added and the headline cannot be changed, look out for comments - if they cannot be controlled, then close off comments."

The order could not be confirmed by AFP.

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