A live broadcast on CCTV of a Tianjin press conference was unceremoniously cut short after reporters started bombarding officials with awkward questions, but the presser itself didn’t end there and video of Chinese journalists asking more aggressive questions that the TV cameras didn’t catch has leaked online.
In yesterday morning’s press conference, a government spokesperson tried to reassure journalists that the wind was blowing dangerous pollutants away from Tianjin. After that he tried to leave but was hit by questions from angry reporters. After one journalist asked how far away hazardous material should be stored from residential areas, the official was stunned to silence. Dumbfounded, he gave a brief response “There’s a standard” before the live feed cut back to the news studio.
But the actual press conference didn’t just stop there. Here’s our translation of the extended cut:
[In response to a question about the incident where a CNN reporter was asked to delete footage by grieving relatives]
“Family members at the hospital were very emotional, but we [officials] are always trying to create conditions that are conducive for reporters to conduct legal reporting.”
[Immediately, a female reporter shot back] “Then why are you asking us to delete pictures at the site?”
“I don’t know what you’re referring to.”
[Another official jumps in to save him]
“The situation on the ground is very complex and time is very short.”
“Why was the warehouse built so near to the residential compound?”
“It’s not close to the residential compound.”
“So why did the explosions affect the residential areas then?”
“If you have the opportunity, please make a trip down to the site for yourself. The warehouse is still pretty far from the residential compounds, but because of the huge magnitude of the explosions, they were still hit.
“But wasn’t there a report saying that the warehouse would NOT affect residential areas?”
[Chaos ensues with reporters asking questions over each other]
“We’ve been there before, it’s not far at all!”
[A moderator steps in to end the press conference]
“The leaders still have to make their way to the frontlines. We will keep you posted on all the latest developments through the most suitable channels.”
“When are you going to have the second press conference?”
“The press conference ends here.”
Of course, it has since been revealed that that residential buildings were in fact too close to the chemical warehouse.
According to People’s Daily, Chinese law for businesses involving dangerous chemicals states that such materials should be stored at least 1,000 meters from public buildings and transport networks. But, it turns out that there are three major residential communities within 1 kilometer of the warehouse.
Residents living 500 to 2,000 meters from the area told the Global Times that they were not even aware of dangerous chemicals in the warehouse, and certainly didn’t receive any warnings when they bought their apartment.
Watch for the extended cut of the awkward mess here: