China media: Bo Xilai trial

China's state media say the trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai was "open and fair"
Image caption China's state media say the trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai was "open and fair"

State media defend former leader Bo Xilai's trial, while some Hong Kong newspapers cast doubt over the transparency of proceedings.

State-run China Central Television's flagship evening news bulletin featured the trial for the first time last night. However, no video or audio statements by Mr Bo or witnesses were aired.

"The entire trial process was open, transparent and in accordance with the law. This shows once again the clear-cut attitude and determination of our party and country to use a rule of law mentality and rule of law approach to combat corruption," says the People's Daily, the Communist Party's most authoritative mouthpiece.

"People have been worried about whether the Bo Xilai case would be a 'secret trial', but these doubts were dispelled by the truth throughout the course of the trial... Even so, some people still advocate that the trial of the Bo Xilai case should be broadcast live on television and they believe that this is the only way that it can be considered a 'public trial'. Such demands are a misunderstanding of open justice," stresses the Global Times.

In contrast, some newspapers in Hong Kong have reservations about the restricted coverage.

"People with direct knowledge of the proceedings said Mr Bo was even more forceful in portions of testimony that have not been released... In the trial, Bo talked of 'some things' of the top leadership, but it was interrupted every time by the court," notes the South China Morning Post in reference to Mr Bo's potentially damaging allegations against senior leaders.

"The Bo case trial still had many problems... In the face of the facts, Bo Xilai's testimony appeared false and there was no need to abridge it. The removal of uploaded posts tarnished the trustworthiness and denigrated the credibility of the text microblogs and was foolish in the extreme," says the Ming Pao.

In other news, insiders tell the 21st Century Business Herald that a Communist Party internal corruption probe into Wang Yongchun, a deputy general manager of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) - China's largest oil and gas firm - is likely to be linked with "opaque and monopolistic" bidding tenders for the Daqing oilfield in the northeast.

The Beijing Morning Post says CNPC has not commented on the investigation yet.

'Online dissent'

Meanwhile, an ongoing crackdown on "online rumour mongers" is fuelling more concerns over whether online dissent and genuine whistle-blowing is being targeted.

State media say more than 60 people have been arrested or detained, and scores of websites shut down, in Shanxi province in the last few weeks for "fabricating false online information".

In Shanghai, 170 people have been arrested on similar charges. Fu Xuesheng, an IT entrepreneur in Shanghai, has also been detained after he posted online accusations against a deputy district mayor of involvement in a murder, bribery and keeping mistresses.

Elsewhere, Zhou Lubao, a well-known whistle-blower in the eastern city of Suzhou, is also in criminal detention on suspicion of extortion and making "terrorist" threats.

Last year, Mr Zhou exposed photos of the mayor of Lanzhou, capital of the less affluent northwest province of Gansu, apparently wearing luxury Swiss watches, which triggered an investigation into his assets.

"Opinion over the fight against rumours on the internet is still divided... There are some people who treat the internet as a battlefront to struggle against the system... Police should firmly investigate malicious rumour-mongers according to law and should ignore shrill voices of opposition," says the Global Times.

"A few people have doubts about the government's punishment of online rumours. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify some misconceptions... Internet rumours are poisoning the public opinion environment and threatening social stability," warns the Liberation Army Daily.

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