China Debates Role of Paparazzi After Three Take Photos of Dead Pop Star

Three reporters from the Shenzhen Evening News took pictures of the late Yao Beina, who died of breast cancer, in a morgue.

Chinese tabloid Shenzhen Evening News has come under fire after three of its reporters were accused of dressing up as medics to sneak into a morgue and take pictures of dead pop star Yao Beina, reports South China Morning Post.

The pictures were not published after Beina's family intervened, but news of the incident leaked out and has led to a big debate on press ethics in China, as well as a furious social backlash against Shenzhen Evening News. The newspaper has apologized to the family, according to local news reports.

"On the mainland, entertainment reporters are even more ruthless than their Western counterparts, or even Hong Kong reporters, because there is no way for them to dig out any private stories about presidents or even local party chiefs," Qiao Mu, head of the Centre for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University told South China Morning Post.

Beina, who died of breast cancer at 33, was well-known in China for first appearing on popular TV singing contest Voice of China in 2013 as well as singing the Mandarin version of "Let It Go" from the hit Disney film Frozen.

Beina's illness and death was big news in the country, particularly after her decision to donate her corneas led to two people regaining their sight, according to Xinhua.