Prominent China Economic Times Investigative Journalists Suspended

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply frustrated to learn that a renowned

investigative journalist and his team of reporters were suddenly suspended from

their duties because of a management decision.

 

China Economic Times journalist

Wang Keqin and five of his colleagues in the newspaper’s investigative news

team were suspended from their duties July 18. It is unclear whether the

journalists will lose their jobs or be assigned different roles at the

organisation.

 

The newspaper, under the control of the Development Research Centre of The

State Council of China, officially announced on July 18 that the Times must ramp up its economic news

coverage to reach its desired market niche. This in turn led to the decision to

dissolve the investigative news team which was discussed by the board of

management and approved by the Centre.

 

Wang is a prominent

investigative journalist and tutor in journalism at a university in Beijing. Along with the

spoiled vaccines case, Wang has reported on a black market taxi industry and alleged

corruption at Investment Security in Lanzhou,

Gansu Province. Wang also campaigns

for tuberculosis patients to receive public donations to provide treatment for

their long-lasting illness, through the China Social Assistance Foundation

which is registered under the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China.

 

“While

it is entirely reasonable for a media organisation to target particular

markets, in this instance it appears absurd that the China Economic Times could not sustain an investigative reporting

unit – particularly given the current team’s success,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

“We

fear this move is an attempt to remove controversial news which could set a

precedent for other media organisations in China.”

 

A source, who did not wish to be named, told the IFJ that the

decision was made by Han Liyun, publisher of the Times since May 2010, who wished to see less hard-hitting coverage

in the pages of the newspaper.

 

“We don’t believe this decision came from Central Propaganda

Department because Wang has been successfully reporting several influential

news events such as the Shanxi

spoiled vaccine case and others without receiving any punishment from the

Department,” the source said.

 

“We believe the decision was made by Han because he dislikes too many

‘negative’ news reports being published.

 

“Han quarrelled with Wang a number of times over news coverage.”

 

Han, 47, assumed the position of publisher of the Times in May 2010 after his predecessor Bao

Yueyang was removed from his position because he published reports on the Shanxi spoiled vaccines

case.

 

Another source told the IFJ that Wang was warned by a local

security officer not to leave China

without informing them of the reason.

 

The

IFJ urges the Development Research Centre of The State Council of China and the

management board of China Economic Times to swiftly reconsider its decision and reinstate Wang and his team. 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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