(VNRN) – Near the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Vietnamese government stepped up its censorship and banned all mentions of the event, even blocking the entire CNN broadcast of a retrospective segment on the event.
It has not always been this way. The massive 1989 killing of student protestors – the Chinese government has admitted to at least 300 killed – took place when relations between Vietnam and China were still antagonistic following the 1979 border war. A government-owned publisher put out a polemical book, “Darkness on Tiananmen Square,” heavily criticizing Beijing’s conduct. The book was even reissued by the official publication house of the Ministry of Police.
In 1990, however, the two countries arrived at an agreement and resumed friendly relations. The terms of the agreement, reached in Chengdu, China, have not been made public and are the subject of widespread speculation. However, one observable outcome has been that the Vietnamese government is toeing the Chinese line on Tiananmen. The government-printed book was withdrawn from circulation. Information is strictly controlled. In universities, if the event is mentioned at all it is taught as a legitimate governmental action against counterrevolutionary rioters.
And so it happend to CNN. The U.S.-based news network is normally carried on government-owned cable network SCTV.
On June 4, the date of the massacre, as soon as the program showed the title “Tiananmen Anniversary,” the screen blanked out, and all the audience saw was a notice that “the program is interrupted because of inappropriate content.”
The broadcast resumed several minutes later with a segment on President Barrack Obama‘s trip to Poland. Whatever CNN was going to show will never been known to its Vietnamese audience.
Freedom of speech and the public’s right to know, it appears, has been curtailed not only to serve the Vietnamese Communist Party’s interests, but also those of the Chinese Communist Party.
Photo top: CNN broadcast on Vietnam’s government-owned cable system SCTV is blacked out “because of inappropriate content.”