12 Feb 2009

Chinese govt does not suppress media freedom - says Ambassador

10:40 am on 12 February 2009

China's ambassador to Tonga has denied a claim made at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association regional conference in Nuku'alofa that the Chinese government suppresses media freedom.

This follows a diplomatic incident which marred Tuesday night's opening ceremony of the conference.

In his opening address, the CBA vice-president, Mano Wikranamayake of Sri Lanka, cited last year's contaminated milk scandal in China as an example of the challenges facing media freedom around the world.

However ambassador, Fan Quijing, stormed out of the venue when Mr Wikranamayake said that China's government suppressed news of the contamination, causing the deaths of young children in an attempt to prevent the Beijing Olympics being disrupted.

Mr Fan says China was exemplary in its openness to media during the Olympics and he doesn't accept the claim it suppressed information.

"I had to show my dignity so I decided to walk out as a protest to this man. And I did not wish to cause chaos at this occasion so I just left and I believe he knew that he made a mistake and I think that he should apologise to the government of China and the people of China."