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Transparently deceptive


Yongtu: "I'll tell you when you
can write about transparency"

Long Yongtu, China's former vice-minister at the finance and economy ministry and the country's chief negotiator for its entry into the WTO, might want to forget his performance at Credit Suisse First Boston's recent investment conference in Hong Kong. It could haunt him for a long time to come.

For his keynote address he decided he had the perfect stage to lambast Hong Kong's press for its coverage of the Sars crisis. Looking over the heads of the bankers and investors and talking directly to the reporters at the back he declared: "I am not very comfortable with the kind of media reports in Hong Kong that have made so many people panic." He said that the media should play more of a "calming role" when reporting such stories. Presumably, one assumes, like the mainland media. A delegate present says: "He was basically saying that the press should be curbed to protect the economy. Now that's really worrying."

After his five-minute lecture on the need to curtail news, Long decided it was time to deliver his official speech - on the importance of transparency.

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