China Turns a Page on Independent Journalism
In the wake of Mr. Qiu’s victory, a string of similar cases has come to light exposing the dangers Chinese journalists face while doing their jobs. Last Wednesday, family members of two journalists involved in exposing the pollution of a major river – and subsequent attempts to hush the story up with bribes – by Zijin Mining Corp., China’s biggest publicly traded gold producer, were involved in mysterious car accidents.
Two days later, the offices of the Shanghai-based National Business Daily were stormed by employees of shampoo-maker BaWang International Group Holding Ltd. shortly after the newspaper reported that Bawang shampoos contained a cancer-causing chemical. Such brute intimidation of journalists is not uncommon in China. What was unusual was the way the normally docile Chinese media pushed back by publicizing accounts of the attacks on front pages and newscasts around the country.
China’s newspapers and television stations – while all still subject to official censorship – have shown increasing independence in recent years, led by a trio of feisty newspapers owned by the Southern Media Group, a Guangdong-based publisher that recently tried to purchase Newsweek magazine. While news outlets must still follow old-fashioned political directives regarding anything to do with “sensitive” topics such as Tibet, Taiwan and the country’s one-party political system, articles exposing corruption by businesses or low-ranking government officials is now standard fare in newspapers and newscasts.
See also “China’s Besieged Journalists” from the Wall Street Journal.