China: Authorities charge, detain journalists

Chinese law enforcement have arrested senior journalist Dong Yuyu on charges of espionage after he met with a Japanese diplomat in Beijing in February 2022. In a separate incident, Chinese authorities have confirmed their detention of Taiwanese journalist and Gusa Publishing House editor-in-chief Li Yanhe on April 26 while under investigation for national security crimes. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the arbitrary detention of Yuyu and Yanhe and calls on the Chinese government to respect press freedom and secure their immediate release.

Guangming Daily journalist Dong Yuyu (left) and Taiwanese Gusa Publishing editor-in-chief Li Yanhe (right). Credit: Twitter

Dong Yuyu, a senior columnist for the Chinese government-run newspaper Guangming Daily for nearly 35 years, faces up to ten years in prison if he is convicted of espionage at his trial. Yuyu was arrested in February 2022 while having lunch with a Japanese diplomat at a restaurant in Beijing, China. According to media reports, the unnamed diplomat was detained for several hours before being released. Yuyu, however, has been held in detention since.

His family initially chose to withhold information surrounding his arrest, hoping to secure his release. The registration of formal charges against Yuyu prompted the journalist’s family to inform the media and rights organisations in an official statement on April 24. The date of his trial has not yet been confirmed.

In a separate incident, after disappearing for more than a week Chinese authorities have confirmed that Taiwanese Gusa Publishing editor-in-chief Li Yanhe is currently in detention. The journalist is under investigation for allegedly ‘engaging in activities endangering national security”.

Yanhe, who operates under the pen name Fu Cha, travelled to Shanghai last month to visit his family but became uncontactable last week. Speculation of his arrest arose until confirmation by Chinese law enforcement of his arrest and detention.

Fu Cha has previously published critical books on the history and politics of China’s ruling Communist Party, including works on China’s alleged oppression of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, and the influence of Beijing’s media influence on journalists, outlets, and information landscapes globally. Fu Cha, born in the People’s Republic of China, had planned to attain citizenship in the Republic of China after relocating to Taiwan in 2009.

On April 30, citizen journalist Fang Bin was released after serving a three-year sentence after the businessperson and citizen journalist posted videos of him reporting on Wuhan’s initial outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020. Bin was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ on March 5, 2020. According to reports Bin remains under strict state supervision.

The IFJ said: “The arrest of Dong Yuyu and detention of Li Yanhe highlight the deep challenges faced by journalists and media workers in China. The IFJ condemns the arbitrary and excessive treatment of these two respected journalists and urges Chinese authorities to commit to protecting press freedom as is enshrined in its constitution, securing their immediate release and clearance of all charges."

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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