Minitrue: No Follow-up on Yili Denouncing Ex-chairman

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

No website may conduct follow-up interviews, reporting, or commentary on the October 24 open letter by the Yili Group denouncing its former chairman of the board Zheng Junhuai and his official protectors. (October 24) [Chinese]

The -based dairy company posted the letter two weeks ago, saying that it had also submitted a report to disciplinary authorities. This immediately followed the sentencing of two bloggers for spreading rumors that Zheng’s successor, Pan Gang, was under investigation for . According to the open letter, these rumors were part of Zheng’s machinations against the company, and prosecutors had shown WeChat communications between Zheng and one of the two men. The company had previously said that Pan’s four-month disappearance from public view at the start of this year was for medical treatment. The open letter has been removed from the company’s Weibo account and corporate website, but remains online elsewhere. South China Morning Post’s Phoebe Zhang described Yili’s allegations:

In the statement, Yili accused Zheng of being behind a series of “defamation attacks” spanning a decade. It claimed the attacks started after Zheng and his unnamed protector embezzled 240 million yuan (US$34.5 million) in public funds.

In 2004, Zheng and four other company managers were arrested. Two years later, Zheng was sentenced to six years in prison for embezzling 16.5 million yuan. Yili’s statement claims that because of the “protection” he enjoyed, the malpractice went mostly overlooked. It also claimed that because of Zheng’s connections, he was not held in prison and went home whenever he wanted during his sentence.

Yili claims that because of his sudden arrest, Zheng was unable to transfer most of the embezzled funds to his accounts and for more than 10 years, the company claims, Zheng and some officials from Inner Mongolia pressured Yili’s management, asking them to transfer the money.

[…] The letter went on to allege that, after several failed attempts, Zheng started contacting journalists and other writers to present himself as a victim and began name-calling and defaming Yili managers.

Yili claims two rumoured attacks caused the company share price to slump – one in 2011, and another in March 2018, when former journalist Liu Chengkun and WeChat writer Zou Guangxiang began to “spread rumours”. [Source]

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