Chinese News Assistants React to Colleague’s Arrest

Chinese News Assistants React to Colleague’s Arrest

Asia Society’s Eric Fish talks to five current and former news assistants for foreign media in China about the recently reported detention of their counterpart at Die Zeit, Zhang Miao.

What did you think when you read the report about Zhang Miao’s arrest?

News assistant #1: Imagine African gazelles watching their mates cross a crocodile-invested river that they themselves had waded across just a short while ago. Imagine their horror when they look back as one of their mates first flounces and wails, then gets drowned and devoured. […]

News assistant #4: It sends a chill down my spine, of course. I compare Miao’s arrest to a terrorism strike, because it’s scary and meant to terrorize. I feel just like someone who witnessed the Boston marathon bombing — afraid at first, then outraged, then sad, then realize that if I panic, I lose. If you don’t panic, you see the big picture. We all know that the Party can grab anyone they want at any time. They’ve grabbed reporters, lawyers, students, accountants, scientists, teachers. Why not news assistants? […]

[…] What is the general atmosphere for news assistants like these days compared to the past?

News assistant #4: The biggest impact since the new administration came to office is that there is no one left to call. Everyone we used to call up for a quote is in jail. The Party has long grabbed anyone with rebellious political views, and now it has finished grabbing the ones with modest views. Now it’s coming for anyone who speaks at all. No one wants to talk. It’s amazing how fast what little room we had to discuss public affairs just vanished. [Source]

The assistants also discuss Die Zeit’s failure to obtain proper accreditation for Zhang, which may have deepened her predicament. Read more perspectives on the case via CDT.


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