Junta attack foreign media 'fabrications'

Apr 6, 2009 (DVB), A leading state-run newspaper in Burma has accused foreign media of manufacturing a story in order to stir up tension between Burma and China.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said yesterday that foreign broadcasting stations had aired a story about Burma and attributed the source to a Chinese state-run broadcasting organization, Yunnan Province TV.

The article claimed however that the source was in fact a private-run channel called Phoenix TV, based in Hong Kong, who had broadcast the piece on 28 February and 1 March.

Given that Hong Kong is only a special administrative region of China, the Chinese government have no jurisdiction over its media industry, the article said.

"Anti-government broadcasting stations and groups, taking advantage of news reports aired by Phoenix TV, manufactured a fabrication as if the news about [Burma] was aired by the Yunnan Province TV Station," it said.

"Actually, the attempt was to jeopardize China-[Burma] friendly ties."

China has developed strong political and economic relations with Burma, and is a key trading partner. Last month the two countries signed a deal to pump Burma's vast natural gas reserves to China's mainland.

Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council are notoriously suspicious of foreign media. Following cyclone Nargis last year, journalists attempting to enter the country to report on the situation were denied visas.

Famously, one month after cyclone Nargis, the New Light of Myanmar led with a story on the "despicable" reporting of the cyclone by foreign media, under the title 'The enemy who is more destructive than Nargis'.

Burma was placed fourth from bottom in international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index 2008, which examined restrictions on media in 173 countries.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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