The China Economic Times report by a renowned investigative journalist revealed how vaccines in Shanxi province had been left unrefrigerated to prevent government quality assurance labels from peeling off.
“We’ve just had a meeting and our chief editor has been removed,” said the reporter, Wang Keqin, yesterday. “We didn’t make any apologies. We can take responsibility for every single character we wrote in that report.”
The March 17 report created a stir across China, but within hours had been played down on websites and other media outlets following orders from the Propaganda Department. China’s official Xinhua news agency cited a Shanxi Health Department official to say Wang’s story was “basically not true”.
The editor who commissioned, stuck by and ultimately paid the price for the report was Bao Yueyang, who is also publisher and Communist Party boss at the newspaper.
Wang Keqin wrote about Bao’s dismissal on his blog today (translated by China Elections and Governance):
This morning, Bao Yueyang, the Economic Times chief editor who published my article on the Shanxi vaccine scandal, was removed from his position. Today is the second year anniversary of the Wenchuan Earthquake. This morning at 9:30, China Economic Times convened a meeting of all members of the Times community, at which the head of the State Council’s Development Research Center read aloud the decision of the Center’s Party Committee: To remove Bao Yueyang from his position as China Economic Times’ publisher and editor-in-chief. It was revealed at the meeting that Bao Yueyang will now go to work at the State Research Center, which has only 20 employees and is subordinate to the [State Council’s] China Development Press.
The head of the Research Council claimed that the Party leadership’s decision to make these changes took into consideration only the newspaper’s development, work requirements, and communications with cadres, and was absolutely not the result of any individual event, short discussion, or hasty decision-making.
My colleague at the Economic Times, investigative reporter Liu Jianfeng, said this on his personal microblog: “One of the founders of The China Economic Times, who currently holds the position of director and chief editor, has been removed. When the unit leader made the announcement regarding the personnel change about to take place, he kept repeating that “it had nothing to do with any one recent event.” This “any one event” was believed by everyone at the paper to be in reference to the vaccine report.