• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 9:05pm

Xinhua defends 'Aids village' visit

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am

Xinhua has rejected a wire service report that said the patients who met Premier Wen Jiabao at an 'Aids village' in Henan province last year might have been actors supplied by the authorities.

On November 30, Mr Wen paid a second visit to Wenlou village in Shancai county. He visited the same village during the Lunar New Year in 2005.

Last Tuesday, Agence France-Presse filed a report entitled 'Surprise performance: did Wen Jiabao shake hands with fake Aids patients?' The report, based on interviews with villagers, said officials were still covering up the extent of the Aids problem and preventing the truth from being revealed, even if that meant lying to one of the country's leaders.

It said Mr Wen visited Wenlou to shake hands with Aids patients, but residents were not allowed to speak to him about their hardships.

The report said officials had rounded up villagers and taken them away, and actors pretending to be patients had been brought in.

In a rare move, Xinhua issued the notes taken by its reporter Li Bin , who accompanied Mr Wen on the trip, to clarify the issue.

The AFP article was printed by the Southern Metropolis News, Yangcheng Evening News and Wen Wei Po.

But if it is true, Mr Wen would not be the first leader to have been duped. In 1998, then premier Zhu Rongji inspected an official granary in Anhui province .

Mr Zhu was satisfied that his purchasing policy was working after finding the stores full, but officials had ordered trucks to transfer the grain overnight.

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