Xinhua News Agency

Mainland media downplay Gu Kailai's sentencing for Neil Heywood murder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 3:38am

The mainland media took a low-key approach in their reports on Monday's sentencing of Gu Kailai , the wife of Chongqing's former party chief Bo Xilai .

It was an obvious attempt to swiftly move on from the nation's biggest political scandal in decades ahead of the Communist Party's 10-yearly congress to reshuffle its top leadership.

On state-run Chongqing Satellite Television's 6.30pm news programme, which reflects government positions, an anchorwoman read a 20-second story on Gu's murder trial.

She said Gu had received a suspended death sentence for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, but it did not include pictures or video.

The station downplayed the news item, as it followed a 14-minute report on a conference promoting industrialisation and a short report on a subsidised housing project.

The conference was chaired by Zhang Dejiang , who replaced Bo as Chongqing's party chief in March.

The newscast also failed to mention the four former police officers who were jailed for five to 11 years for helping Gu to conceal her crime. But it did mention Zhang Xiaojun , a family aide of Gu, who was jailed for nine years for helping Gu kill Heywood.

In contrasty, national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) gave three minutes of airtime to Gu's sentencing in its hourly reports.

The CCTV news item included footage of Gu in court. "I feel the verdict is just and fully reflects the court's respect for the law, its respect for reality and, in particular, its respect for life," CCTV quoted Gu as saying.

Other media relied solely on copy provided by Xinhua, which included a chart illustrating the ties between Heywood, Gu and Zhang Xiaojun, as well as the verdicts on the pair and their sentences.

The Chongqing Evening News ran a small headline on Gu's sentencing at the bottom of its front page, below stories about the industrialisation conference and a food-safety programme involving local restaurants.

Other newspapers, such as the Chongqing Economic Times and the Chongqing Morning Post, also had small headlines on their front pages referring to Xinhua's report.