Attacks and Unwarranted Investigation of Journalists in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about two separate incidents perpetrated against journalists in China in recent days, one which left a journalist seriously injured.


On June 24, Fang Xuen Chang, scientific editor of the Beijing-based Caijing Magazine, was beaten over the head with an iron rod by two unidentified assailants, after he left work. Fang‘s head and back were seriously injured in the attack, which occurred near Fang’s home, according to Phoenix Satellite TV. 


Reports said Fang claimed to have no knowledge of why he was attacked and he denied experiencing tension or animosity with other people. However, Fang, who has focused on health issues in his reporting, recalled that his latest critical news report was related to genetic mutations found in crops grown in China.


“It is a sad reality that in China it is rare for the perpetrators of abhorrent crimes against journalists to face the full force of the law,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


“The International Federation of Journalists urges China’s authorities to promptly investigate the brutal assault of Fang Xuen Chang and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice quickly, upholding promises made by China’s leaders to ensure the rights of journalists to report freely.”


In a separate incident on June 25, three journalists from the Chongqing Morning Post were detained in Chongqing and interrogated by police for allegedly posting “unacceptable content” on an online social chat room. 


Liao Yi, Chen Songbo and Qiu Jinyi first came under investigation by local police after they posted some messages about a hotel that was shut down by the local government on June 20.  A journalist informed the IFJ that Liao, Chen and Qiu had stated that the hotel’s closure was due to illegal acts of prostitution occurring on the premises, and the journalists were investigating the role of hotel shareholders in the alleged activities.  


The Chongqing Morning Post said on June 24 that no media workers had been detained, after rumours that one of the three journalists had been sentenced to a labour re-education camp.


After the detention and interrogation on June 25, Chen and Qiu were allowed to leave but Liao is reported to be still under investigation.


The so-called “unacceptable content” message has since been deleted from the chat room.


“Police attempting to extract information from journalists by interrogating them is a violation of a free press and is condemned by the IFJ,” White said.


“The journalists subjected to this interrogation have a responsibility to protect their sources and the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Article 35 of China’s Constitution.”


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries