International Press Institute Asserts that China's Control of the Media Caused the Spread of SARS
According to a Radio Free Asia report on April 22, the Vienna-based International Press Institute condemned the Chinese government for its obsession with secrecy and their determination to restrict the free flow of information, which caused the epidemic spread of SARS. The International Press Institute is an international organization dedicated to safeguarding freedom of the press.
The International Press Institute (IPI), a network of senior journalists and media executives from 115 countries, said an open letter to the President of China, Hu Jintao. The Institute urged Hu to allow journalists "to report freely in China without fear of arrest or prosecution," in order to help prevent any "repetition of the SARS tragedy."
The open letter pointed out that at the beginning of the SARS outbreak, the Chinese government forbade journalists from reporting on the epidemic, and failed to set up a prevention system for both people and doctors. They were therefore unable to effectively control the spread of the epidemic. IPI said that a free flow of information is needed to deal with emergencies. However, the Chinese government determined that the free flow of information would be hazardous, and that political and social stability was more important than people's lives.