China has just lost many lives and property after earthquake struck a area in southwest China. But the media cover paints a much different picture of the reality, and Chinese people are questioning this.

A series of three earthquakes hit various parts of the province of Sichuan in southwest China on Wednesday, June 1, and Thursday, June 2. The highest earthquake topped 6.1 Richter. 

According to reports, the earthquakes killed at least 4 people, injured 41, and affected the lives of 13,000 people. Many houses were damaged.

Ironically, on June 2, a day after the first earthquake struck, many state med

ia downplayed the Sichuan earthquake. 

For example, both People’s Daily – the largest newspaper in China – and Sichuan Daily – the major newspaper in Sichuan province where the earthquake occurred – did not mention anything about the earthquake on their front page.

Besides, Huaxi Metropolis Daily, a major newspaper in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, did not say anything about the earthquake on the front page either. Instead the first news on the front page was Prime Minister Li Keqiang holding a State Council meeting, while the other two-thirds of the page was followed by large pictures of Shanghai easing lockdown. 

In the second half of the second page of that issue, two pieces of news about the earthquake popped up. But one was a reprinted report on the earthquake from the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The main point of the article is that experts have said that a larger earthquake will not be likely to break out in the short term. Timed News said this article is to appease the people.

And the other report is written by Huaxi Metropolis Daily itself. The report focuses on the living conditions of the victims on the first night after the earthquake. Timed News said the report is a kind of propaganda, as it promotes the so-called “main theme,” such as how the authorities actively helped the victims resettle and how to protect the lives of victims. Timed News questioned why the report cites no voices from any victims and whether the victims are not allowed to speak out. Timed News also questioned whether the victims truly appreciate the officials and not so much worry about food, clothing, and housing just based on this. 

Timed News said that the news of the earthquake has not taken any noticeable position on the official online media. And since June 3, it fell off the top 20 most search lists.

Downplaying disasters is not something new with Chinese strictly state-controlled media.

Around this time in 2020, a series of floods hit southern China, affecting millions of people. The flood claimed hundreds of deaths and destroyed dozens of thousands of houses across 26 provinces and cities.

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