Journalists have been ordered to focus on “touching stories” and avoid questioning official accounts of the disaster, which killed at least 39 people, Chinese bloggers and the US-based China Digital Times website said.
China’s propaganda authorities typically move swiftly to limit coverage of major disasters that could embarrass the government.
The China Digital Times said the nation’s media had been ordered to focus on positive stories such as blood donors coming forward and free taxi services.
“All reports regarding the Wenzhou high-speed train accident are to be titled ‘7.23 Yong-Wen line major transportation accident’ and use ‘in the face of great tragedy, there’s great love’ as the major theme,” the directive said.
“Do not question. Do not elaborate. No re-posting on micro-blogs will be allowed!”
China’s railway minister said Saturday’s accident, which left nearly 200 people injured and was the worst to hit the country’s rapidly expanding high-speed rail network, had taught the country a “bitter lesson”.
“We must on one hand extract these lessons and deeply examine and reflect on them, while rousing ourselves from this setback and concentrating our efforts on inspecting and rectifying hidden safety problems,” said Sheng Guangzu.
The railways ministry is to pay 500,000 yuan (B2.3 million) in compensation for each victim of the crash, Xinhua reported, citing an official.
The government has sacked three senior railway officials and announced an “urgent overhaul” of the national rail network.
But the moves have failed to stem a tide of criticism of the government’s handling of the disaster, which initial reports blamed on a lightning strike knocking out power to the first train.
Despite the reporting ban, many continued to question why the driver of the second train, which ploughed into the first – crushing some carriages and forcing others off the rails – was not warned in time to stop.
China’s high-speed rail system only opened to passengers in 2007, but has grown at breakneck speed thanks to huge state funding and is already the largest in the world, with 8,358 kilometres of track at the end of last year.
The trains involved in Saturday’s collision were the first generation of China’s high-speed trains, and designed to travel at a top speed of 250 kilometres per hour.
More recently, China has introduced a second generation of bullet trains that can run up to 380 kph, although their speed is restricted to 300 kph for safety reasons.