Every March in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, a live-TV press conference with the Prime Minister of China caps an annual conference known as the National People’s Congress. And as New York Times Beijing bureau reporter Andrew Jacobs notes, every year it’s the same bogus drill:
But unbeknownst to many people in China, all the questions had been vetted in advance, with foreign reporters and Foreign Ministry officials having negotiated over what topics were permissible, and then how the acceptable questions would be phrased.
This year CNN, Reuters, CNBC, The Associated Press and the Financial Times were among the outlets permitted to ask questions. Most of those who covered the event agreed it was a lackluster affair, without even a nugget of bona fide news.
Much like the “guidance” provided by publicists ahead of some Hollywood press junkets, Jacobs says that this year’s forbidden topics included self-immolations in Tibet and last month’s train station stabbing attack. His NYT item also has a summary of some colorful recent objections raised by Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Stephen McDonell.