China: Anger over attacks on journalists by officials and enterprises
Posted by Author on August 9, 2010
By Kathrin Hille in Beijing, The Financial Times, August 8 2010 –
A five centimetre-long scar on Fang Xuanchang’s shaved head tells of what happened to him six weeks ago.
Mr Fang, a science reporter, was attacked from behind by two men with metal bars on the night of June 24. The journalist believes the thugs were hired by a health-products marketer whom he portrayed as a quack in one of his stories.
The police have made no progress in identifying the attackers, and Mr Fang says none of several eyewitnesses has been questioned.
Violence against journalists in China is nothing new but recent conflicts between reporters and the companies they report on have triggered an angry debate about the confused roles of the media and state power.
“The traditional conflict pattern would be between the media and government, but now it becomes clear the real trigger is when certain people feel threatened in their personal interests,” says Zhao Li, deputy editor at Caijing, where Mr Fang now works. The magazine has long been a stronghold of investigative reporting in China.
Last month, police in a town in the coastal province of Zhejiang listed Qiu Ziming, a reporter for the Economic Observer, as one of the nation’s most wanted criminals after he accused Kan Specialty Materials, a local listed company, of financial irregularities.
A wave of online protests forced the police to cancel the wanted notice. However, they have not closed their investigation.
The same week, a journalist at the China Times was attacked following a story alleging illegal financial transactions at Shenzhen International Enterprise.
One day later, journalists working for National Business Daily were attacked by men identifying themselves as representatives of BaWang International, a shampoo maker that the newspaper had accused of selling products tainted with toxic chemicals.
“The fact that a company can enlist state authorities to fight its private battles highlights the core problem: our police and judiciary are not independent and there is widespread collusion between officials and enterprises,” says Mr Zhao.
He says local government officials and party cadres often order law enforcement organs or courts to act against media after reporters touch on their personal financial dealings.
Last month, a party official in charge of the local propaganda department in a town in Anhui province was convicted on corruption charges. Also in July, the party in Chongqing municipality began an investigation into allegations that its propaganda chief had acted as an intermediary for the local Hilton hotel in an argument over a negative media report.
However, the lines are less than clear-cut. China’s ruling Communist party traditionally sees the media’s main role as propaganda instruments. Career paths for journalists often involve crossing over into government or party jobs. Party propaganda officials have typically served as editors of state newspapers or broadcasters. Following the spread of market principles in China’s economy and the commercialisation of the media in particular, the lines have become similarly muddled between media and enterprise.
– The Financial Times: Anger over attacks on journalists in China
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This entry was posted on August 9, 2010 at 3:20 am and is filed under Businessman, China, corruption, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Life, News, Official, People, Police, Politics, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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