Why FoxConn and China Business News Settled

Why did FoxConn and China Business News settled so abruptly.  The translated blog post below is written by Zhang Wen, an editor with Xinhua's Globe magazine.  Zhang had also worked previously with two members of the China Business News.  Presumably, given his job position, Zhang would not be writing about the case with such certainty. 

(Zhang Wen's blog 章文的博客)  The Political Play in the FoxConn Farce.  September 6, 2006.

[in translation]

The FoxConn affair was like a farce.  From an unprecedented ferocious start, it ended with a settlement that the public could not have imagined.  As this affair involves two of my former colleagues -- Qin Shuo (秦朔) and Weng Bao (翁宝) -- I have been paying attention all along.

When Qin Shuo was the chief editor at Nanfengchuang (南风窗) magazine, his standing as a rational intellectual concerned about the world won widespread respect.  His departure to take over editorial duties at China Business News in Shanghai had a deep impact on Nanfengchuang.

But this time, the performance of China Business News surprised people.  The joint declaration by the two parties was an exercise in "mutual admiration."  You show me respect and I show you respect.  The tense standoff suddenly turned into a friendly handshake.  The quickness of the reversal surprised everybody.

Therefore, many netizens expressed their anger and dissatisfaction against the two.  They accused China Business News, especially Qin and Weng, for being spineless and afraid to fight.

To tell the truth, I was repulsed by what Weng did.  This person (who was not the reporter) was sued for no obvious reason, but he immediately began a blog at Sina.com.  His blog contained a great deal of personal promotion in which he discussed his journalistic ideals and gave the impression of a hero marching to meet this fate.  Based upon what I know about him, I believe that there was a lot of exaggeration.

But for this 'farce,' I do not want to criticize them any further.  Based upon my  understanding of Qin Shuo, I believe that he must have unspeakable difficulties.  No matter whether it was a fight for the dignity of the press, or to hype this up for the newspaper, Qin Shuo should not have chosen to compromise and retreat.  But he did it.  So this says that there was something in there that was beyond his control.

When I read the essay that he wrote in the newspaper afterwards, I sensed that he was saying that he had no choice even as he asked the readers for their understanding.

Based upon what I know, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council interceded in the matter, and they got the local governments of Shanghai and Guangdong to mediate.  That was how this 'farce' screeched to a halt.  They were afraid that this incident may turn into a protest against all Taiwan businesses, which would affect cross-strait trade relationships.

Terry Guo is the richest man in Taiwan and he is on good terms with the Taiwan Affairs Office.  According to rumors, he was behind the scenes in getting Lian Chan and James Soong to come to the mainland.  Although this may be an exaggeration, everybody knows that he has good interactions with the mainland government.

Quite a few people had hoped that this matter would go into the legal phase and become a landmark case (which is what Qin Shuo had been saying) and raise deep thoughts about freedom of press and worker protection, eventually leading to reforms in the system.

But reality is reality.  Freedom of press is important and worker protection is urgently needed, but everything must first depend on the political factors.  If this is politically unacceptable, then freedom of press and everything else can be sacrificed.