12 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- China will no longer regard death tolls from natural disasters as state secrets.
A spokesman for the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets told a news conference the move was aimed at boosting government transparency.
Death tolls from floods, famines, and other natural or man-made disasters used to be closely guarded secrets in China. Such information has become more readily available through official channels in recent years, but unauthorized attempts to obtain it can still lead to lengthy jail terms for stealing, or leaking, state secrets.
It was not clear whether the latest decision means China will revise death tolls from past disasters, like the 1959-62 famine in which at least 20 million people are believed to have died. Many blamed the famine on Communist Party leader Mao Zedong's policies.
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