Wen's meeting with Ban well scripted

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2008, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao's press conference and meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the epicentre of the quake zone yesterday looked like a well-co-ordinated move to generate publicity for the central government's rescue and relief efforts.

Selected members of the international, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwanese media were contacted on Friday and told to expect big news if they joined an organised tour yesterday morning.

Three helicopters carried more than 30 journalists to Yingxiu, in Wenchuan county , at about 9am to await the arrival of Mr Wen and Mr Ban.

'We feel like we could do better in letting international communities know the great rescue efforts the Chinese government is making,' a Foreign Ministry official said when asked why the trip was organised.

Mr Wen looked eager to answer questions from foreign journalists, with several mainland reporters asked to give question opportunities to foreign reporters.

Many People's Liberation Army solders working at the site stopped their work and rushed into the crowd at the outdoor press conference, taking pictures with their mobile phone cameras.

It took a two-star general to restore order. 'All soldiers get out or you will be immediately disciplined,' the general shouted as Mr Wen was answering questions.

After meeting, Mr Ban and Mr Wen trekked several hundred metres of a mountain road to visit a shelter for more than 100 homeless farmers.

Afterwards, a quake relief volunteer shouted: 'Premier, you have to look into this corruption. There are so many 'bean-curd projects', caused by the collaboration of government officials and bad businessman.'

'Okay, I will investigate that,' Mr Wen answered.

The man was pulled away by security staff as a local official yelled, 'Control him, arrest him'.