Zou and Liu, financial journalists from Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, were arrested in Hohhot earlier this year. Zou was arrested from his home on March 28, two days after he published an article on his personal financial blog Guangxiang Caijiang about Pan Gang, the director of Yili Group, which said that Pan was suspected of running the business remotely from the US, and on his return to China, was taken into custody. On April 2, Liu Chengkun, a blogger and former journalist with government-owned Time Weekly, was arrested in Beijing by police from Hohhot. His arrest came after he published two fictional stories about a character called Mr Pan. In the stories, which were originally published on Tianlu Caijing, the character bore a striking resemblance to Pan Gang. The stories were deleted from Tianlu Caijing but later reposted to Sina Finance.
According to China Daily Zou's articles received 5.74 million views, while Liu's were read 10,993 times.
According to RSF, following the publication of Zou’s blog, Yili Group experienced a 3.5% fall in its share price.
The IFJ said: “The fact that two journalists have been arrested and subsequently jailed for simply reporting raises serious concerns about the rights of the media to report freely without fear of intimidation or retribution. We support Zou and Liu in their appeal of the ruling and sentencing they have received, and call for their immediate release.”