Calls for Journalist’s Release Gain Momentum
At China Media Project, David Bandurski writes that Guangdong’s New Express repeated its front-page plea for the release of journalist Chen Yongzhou for a second day running. Chen was detained by Changsha police operating outside their jurisdiction last week after a series of his reports allegedly “damaged the business reputation” of Hunan-based construction machinery manufacturer Zoomlion. Bandurski adds that Chen’s detention has now attracted attention from other media outlets:
So far, plenty of other Chinese media have followed suit with this story. We are hearing that a strongly worded editorial from Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily was removed by propaganda authorities. The headline of that editorial apparently was: “Cross-Regional Detention Sends Chill Through Media; The Abuse of Police Powers Does Not Stand Before the Law.”
However, the Southern Metropolis Daily has managed to publish a second editorial on Page 02 today, and it has plenty to say.
The editorial argues that the Chen Yongzhou case is about a serious abuse of power by authorities in Changsha. “Even more unsettling,” the editorial says, “is if local authorities act only to serve local economic interests, if they ignore legal limitations and preventative regulations to pursue cases and arrest suspects, not only is this the ugly result of the failure to limit power, but it becomes a serious example of power doing evil.” [Source]
A State Council Information Office directive leaked on Wednesday instructed all websites to remove the original New Express article and related commentary. Nevertheless, South China Morning Post’s Mimi Lau and Patrick Boehler report expressions of concern for Chen from the official All-China Journalists Association and the state media regulator:
Comments by officials from the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television that it was “very concerned” for Chen came days after he was taken into criminal detention by police from Changsha, in Hunan following the publication in the New Express of articles he wrote alleging fraud at construction-equipment maker Zoomlion, based in Changsha.
“The administration would staunchly support normal media reporting and safeguard journalists’ legitimate and legal rights in conducting their reporting work,” the China Press and Publishing Journal cited an official as saying. “We are also against any abuse of press rights.” [Source]