The China Youth Daily Reporter Was Surrounded By Seventy Screaming People
(Youth Weekend) China Youth Daily Reporter Sued For Leaking State Secrets. November 2, 2006. By Xu Ying (徐英).
"Although the police promised me that they will get there in three minutes, a knife stab can be effected in less that three seconds. I would be dead within that time." On October 24, China Youth Daily reporter Liu Wanyong was surrounded and attacked by almost seventy people at the Zhenxing district courthouse, Dandong city, Liaoning province. When he was interviewed by other media several days later, he was still scared. His experience has gained the attention of netizens.
Liu's perilous experience was related to the article "The Business Dealings of a Retired High Official" published on May 18 last year. This article revealed that a former Fuxin city mayor, city party secretary and People's Congress director over fifteen years by the name of Wang Yachen stole the fortune worth more than 100 million RMB from the private entrepreneur Gao Wenhua. Furthermore, he used his daughter Wang Xiaoyun (who was deputy director of the Fuxin city public security bureau) and his son Wang Xiaogang (who was the deputy squadron leader of the Fuxin city security police squadron) to send the asset-owner into prison for eleven months. Wang showed no remorse, and in fact he looked quite content.
At the moment when he was followed and attacked, reporter Liu Wanyong said frankly that he was no hero. He said that he was scared and he did not return to attend the afternoon court hearing. When a man has the ability to hold up the court decision of the Supreme Procuratorate and the public security bureau for four months, there was nothing that he would not dare to do.
(screen capture of Liu Wanrong's article in China Youth Daily)
On May 18, 2005, China Youth Daily reporter Liu Wanrong wrote in "The Business Dealings of a Retired High Official" that the retired former Fuxin city mayor, party secretary and People's Congress director Wang Yachen joined the Shenglong Company as an advisor and seized control of the company without paying a cent. Then he instructed his daughter Wang Xiaoyun (who was the deputy director of the Fuxin public security bureau) and his son Wang Xiaogang (who was the deputy squadron leader of the Fuxin city security police squadron) to place Gao Minhua under detention for four counts of "embezzlement of funds."
On August 22, 2005, Wang Yachen and his children Wang Xiaojun and Wang Xiaoyun sued China Youth Daily at the Dongcheng district court of Beijing city demanding 2.2 million RMB in compensation. The court rejected the lawsuit.
On October 24, 2006, Wang Yachen, his son Wang Xiaogang and two others were tried in Dandong city, Liaoning province for "falsifying capital registration" and "illegal appropriation."
Across the street from the south gate of the Dandong Zhenxing courthouse, there were six or seven cars bearing "Liaoninh J" license plates from Fuxin. From the moment, that Liu Wanrong got out of his car, the daughter Wang Xiaoyun was watching him. Another seven or eight young men with crew-cut and white sneakers came out of the restroom and pointed fingers at him. Liu sensed that something was about to happen.
So after the chief judge announced a recess, Wang Xiaoyun pointed at Liu and yelled, "The one wearing red is Liu Wanrong. Don't let him get away." When she saw Liu walk away, Wang Xiaoyun yelled: "You hooligan reporter. How many people have you fooled already? Who are you trying to fool here?" As soon as Wang Xiaoyun started cursing, the women behind her also came up to surround Liu and curse him. "Damn him! Beat him!" The group of young men also came up. Counting the original group of men by the iron gate, there were about seventy people surrounding Liu in the middle of the big yard of the courthouse.
Here is the first-person account by Liu.
It was very tense. I did not take out my audio recorder or camera because these people definitely would not allow me to collect direct evidence. So I turned around and faced Wang Xiaoyun.
The standoff lasted less than 5 minutes. Just when it seemed that someone was about to take physical action, a court officer charged up and shoved me outside past the iron gate into the street in front of the courthouse. The court officer whispered, "Find a car and get away." So the court officer moved me out with a group of people chasing and yelling.
Fortunately, as soon as I got the street corner, a taxi just came by.
"Hurry up! People are following me." Without waiting for the taxi driver to ask, I told him to take off. Soon after, my mobile phone rang. One of my friends who was protecting me surreptitiously called to say that I was being followed by a red taxi.
My taxi driver made seven or eight turns until he lost our tail. I got back to the hotel. It was lucky because I did not run into any red traffic light.
At noon, the two friends who were protecting me advised me to switch hotels. Based upon previous experience, I should switch hotel as soon as I realized that I was being followed. But we delayed making that decision. "What if I moved to a hotel owned by the Wang family?"
Here is the funny thing. I was staying at 503 and my room faced the service desk. The service workers were chatting loudly. "Why are there so many police cars downstairs?" "I heard that they are holding a conference at the sixth floor conference room." "Who is coming?" "The city public security bureau." The floor manager's reply elated me. I looked outside the window and I saw a lot of police cars downstairs. "The group of police officers on the next floor is my best protection!" So I decided not to switch hotels.
This siege was the most imminent danger that I have encountered ever since I began covering the story of the "retired high official" Wang Yachen. In the past, the Wang family had only sent word through others to warn me.
The interview with Wang Yachen on April 26, 2005 was the most important component of my article. Without this piece, "The Business Dealings of the Retired High Official" could not be published. So I spent some time trying to make sure that I could interview Wang Yachen.
Three days after I arrived at Fuxin city, I went to the Fuxin city party committee publicity department. Previously, I have interviewed many other witnesses already. The external publicity department cadre Gao Feng met me and I told me what I wanted to do. Gao Feng said that he needed to consult with his supervisor Hui Lizhong. Half an hour later, I met Hui.
"If you didn't say so, we wouldn't know that 'Secretary Wang' was connected to the Gao case." Hui expressed surprise. "We thought that 'Secretary Wang' only had some minor conflicts with Gao Wenhua." "'Secretary Wang' is already retired. Is it appropriate to go through us to interview him?"
So I complained to him, "I just got back from another assignment and my supervisor told me to come here. I haven't even read the case materials. It is so complicated. Can you help me by hooking me up with me?" In front of him, I cursed out my supervisor for just sending out the reporters without suitable debriefing.
So Hui Lizhhong called Wang Yachen and said, "'Secretary Wang,' a China Youth Daily reporter wants to interview you. Will you meet with him?" Wang Yachen agreed.
When I walked into the Wang Yachen's office, he was sitting behind his desk. He did not get up to shake hands or make small talk. I observed that he tilted his head upwards. Did he want to look authoritative?
Just as I had told the Fuxin city publicity department people, I said the same kind of thing to Wang Yachen.
But Wang did not react. Instead, he began to chat with me about this "political accomplishments" at Fuxin. "You must have met Gao Wenhua. He took 8 million RMB from the company, later verified to be actually 10 million RMB and he ran away. We know that he is using the sum of money to complain against us in Beijing. Your presence here shows that he is spending the money in the right places!"
I countered: "Are you saying that I took Gao Wenhua's money or my supervisors took money from him?"
"Somebody took money for sure," said Wang Yachen.
So I tried to move into the main theme as quickly as possible. I wanted to understand how "Wang Yachen managed silently to increase his share in the company from zero to 37.5% to 40% to 50% and then became the chairman."
Not only did Wang Yachen deny the accusations made by Gao Wenhua against him, but he told me instead: "A couple days ago, the Fuxin city educational group for maintaining the progressiveness of Communist Party members came to my home, I suggested that people like Gao Wenhua ought to be sent to jail or else I was going to resign publicly from the party over the Internet."
"How did the relationship between those two people ended up like this? This is a problem of say-so. When 'Secretary Wang' was the mayor, the city party secretary and the People's Congress director obeyed him. When he became the city party secretary, the mayor and the People's Congress director obeyed him. When he was the People's Congress director, the mayor and the city party secretary obeyed him. When he came down to Commerce City, his say-so was good enough." That was what an official told me privately when I went to the Fuxin City People's Congress Standing Committee to understand whether the temporary suspension of the People's Congress representative status of Gao Wenhua was legal.
When Wang Yachen spoke out, there was no discounting. In the case of Gao Wenhua, when Gao rejected Wang's demand for the chairmanship, Wang issued a threatening prediction.
Gao had to believe that the threat was real. Wang Yachen's daughter Wang Xiaoyun was the Fuxin city public security deputy director and his son Wang Xiaogang was the deputy squadron leader with the security police. Just after the Chinese New Year in 2004, Gao Wenhua went to seek legal advice in Beijing. He found the Guantao Legal Office and made an appointment for March 2 at 8am. The lawyer waited all morning but Gao never showed. It turned out that when Gao arrived at the office at 8am, three Fuxin police officers intercepted him outside and took him back to Fuxin city.
Meanwhile, Wang Yachen began to manufacture rumors. "Gao Wenhua was arrested in Beijing for patronizing prostitutes!" Following that, the Fuxin city People's Congress office approved a motion to suspend Gao's status as People's Congress representative. Meanwhile, the public security bureau approved the arrest of Gao Wenhua. The speed at which the public security bureau worked was astonishing!
But even more interesting things happened later.
The Gao Wenhua case finally got the attention of the Supreme Procuratorate and the public security bureau. They jointly processed the case and came to this conclusion on December 22, 2005: Concerning the four charges against Gao Wenhua for "falsifying business unit stamps, inappropriate investments, misappropriate of assets and embezzlement," these are invalid and Gao should be released immediately.
But when the conclusion reached Gao Wenhua, it became "bailed out awaiting trial" and "the police may re-arrest him if there should be any problems again."
Upon information and belief, after China Youth Daily broke the story, Fuxin city Wanghua district procuratorate case worker Li Chen called the provincial procuratorate and said, "We suppressed the conclusions for four months, but China Youth Daily has published it ..."
Ultimately the decision was to "notify Gao Wenhua urgently and tell him to come and pick up the conclusion statement." On May 19, Gao Wenhua finally heard that the "bailed out awaiting trial" decision was cancelled. Anyone can imagine just what the problem had been. Gao Wenhua can believe it, but so do I. Before I began my investigation in Fuxin, I told our chief editor: "Datong, if someone tells you that I am selling drugs or patronizing prostitutes in Fuxin, please don't believe it!" If Wang Yachen takes action against me, I wouldn't be able to get my job done.
Gao Wenhua's chauffeur Xu Ning was also dragged into this. From April 1, 2005, Xu Ning was accused of "stealing and selling the company Benz car" and "sending in letters of denunciation to falsely accuse and libel." Xu Ning went through a sequence of farces in which he was arrested and released repeatedly. The people who sued Xu Ning were Wang Xiaoyun and Wang Xiaogang. At the time, they were respectively the Fuxin city public security bureau deputy director (promoted to deputy director of the Fuxin city Middle Court soon after) and the deputy squadron director of the security police.
On June 9 last year, the Wang brethen's case against Xu Ning for "wrongful accusation and libel" and Xu Ning's countersuit against the Wangs for "wrongful accusation and libel" was heard at the Xihe district court in Fuxin city. Farcical scenes took place over and over again in court.
After Xu Ning's lawyer read out the letter of complaint, he pointed out that when Wang Xiaogang arrested Xu Ning, he pointed a gun at Xu's head and threatened to shoot him. The defendant Wang Xiaogang jumped up when he heard this assertion: "I was not holding a gun. I did not have a gun. This was all I did ..." At that moment, Wang Xiaogang held up his thumb and index fingers and make the sign of shooting someone. So this was the "people's police" in action.
When Xu Ning's wife Su Yu testified that Wang Xiaogang fabricated charges against her husband, Wang Xiaogang shouted: "You are the daughter of a bitch! You don't blush when you lie." After Su Yu completed her testimony in court, Wang Xiaogang followed her out and said: "Do you believe that I will shoot you?" Many people at the scene witnessed that.
The Wang family used similar techniques not only against me, but also all the other journalists.
When Huashang Morning News reporter Cong Zhiguo went to gather news before the trial started, Wang Xiaogang grabbed him by the neck and said: "Did your boss tell you to come here? You better f*cking write everything correctly. If you don't write everything correctly, I will find you. If I can't find you today, I'll find you tomorrow. If I can't find you tomorrow, I'll find you the day after tomorrow. Do you know about China Youth Daily?" "We reprinted their article." "We are suing them and they will have to pay eventually."
Another Internet reporter sat down and immediately a bald-headed muscular man with a tattoo on his left arm sat down on his left: "Which website do you work for?" The reporter sensed that something was wrong and said, "Don't talk. The court session is about to start." As soon as he finished saying that, another tattooed man sat down on his right and glared at him. The reporter did not return after the morning session.
Actually, during the news gathering, someone told me that this was not the first time that Wang Yachen used his position to take over a company. Previously, Wang Yachen advised a certain enterprise to invest in South Africa through his eldest son Wang Xiaojun. After the project was approved, the company put in 4 million RMB. But Wang Xiaojun did not establish any company in South Africa. Instead, Wang claimed that the company lost money, such that not only was the 4 million RMB lost but Fuxin city had to lend another 4 million to Wang Xiaojun to pay the debts. For me, I am sorry that I did not follow up on these leads.
Many people thought that Wang Yachen was deluded when he agreed to be interviewed by me. I felt that he did not think much of reporters. "If you do me wrong, I can handle it." In his eyes, I'm just a little reporter and it was my supervisor who can decide what will be published.
Such is the mentality of these types of officials. A couple of years ago, the "Three Blind" director Yao Xiaohong also said: "Sue me! It will just be a chance for me to get to know more people who will protect me."
On the evening after interviewing Wang Yachen, a reporter friend called: "Wang Yachen asked when the article will be ready for publication." I realized that this was a probe and so I said, "When I get back, it will be the May 1st holidays. I won't be able to write it."
It did not end there! On May 8, the first day at work after the May 1st weeklong holiday, I ran into the editor-in-chief at lunch in the cafeteria. He asked, "Did you go to Fuxin? Why did you go?" So already someone had spoken to the editor-in-chief. I told him briefly about the case. After hearing my reply that "the material is solid and the case is classical," the editor-in-chief told me, "So just do it!"
At 11:30pm on the night before the article was going into print, the leader sought me out again and said, "The article is written in a lively manner and it will be in the public interest. But when it gets published, we will be sued. Can we win?" "The leader should not be afraid. I have even more evidence." At the time, if I sounded less determined and if I had shown any hesitation, the article would have been spiked.
After the article appeared, the Wang family did not give up and Wang Xiaoyun contacted the then deputy editor-in-chief to ask for a meal. She declined immediately. The deputy editor-in-chief sent word to Wang Xiaoyun: "Can I skip the meal? Let me tell you that the article was approved at the level of the standing committee. Please tell her to go home and wipe her ass."
Someone came and told me: "Please don't write anymore . The northeastern underworld people are tough. Please be careful!" This was not a friendly reminder either! It was a message. Someone else asked a colleague to forward a message: "Your reporter keeps writing about Wang Yachen. Tell him to be careful." But my colleague refused immediately: "I'm under no obligation to carry your message."
Finally, the Wang family went to the Supreme Procuratorate and sued me for "leaking state secrets." They went to the Youth League central to charge that "I was working with the Liaoning provincial procuratorate to use public opinion to destroy them."
After the siege at the courthouse, Huashang Times published the report. A netizen commented: "Oh! There was no fight." So did they just threaten me, or did they intend to attack me? I cannot reach a conclusion. If a fight really broke out, I would be dead and the other party would only be detained for investigation.
Actually, it is not scary to investigate a corrupt official. They won't attack you. They will weigh the pros and cons, and it would not be worth their while because they will lose their job if they tried. But if an official has underworld connections, then he can find someone to attack you and quite thoroughly.
I am not complaining against the Dandong police. There is no actual requirement that "the police must protect the reporters who are acting as the watchdogs on behalf of the public." Although the police promised me that they will be there "within three minutes," it only takes less than 3 seconds to stab someone with a knife. So the reporter must know how to protect himself.
The first time that I went to interview Wang Yachen in Fuxin, I got a room at a hotel with my friend's ID. After I entered the room, I walked around the room with my mobile telephone pointed to the wall. If the mobile telephone showed fluctuations, then that means the room may be bugged. Of course, the better the hotel, the more monitoring systems are likely to be present. I was extremely alert about every visitor. Unless someone had an appointment, I would not open the door, not even if it was a service worker. I kept two recording pens, one on the bar behind the door and another on the bed. If anything should happen when I opened the door, I would have an audio recording. I changed hotels frequently. I was in Fuxin for four days, and I used three hotels.
Why was I so careful? Wang Yachen's daughter Wang Xiaoyun was the deputy director of the Fuxin city public security bureau and she was in charge of security and criminal investigations. I don't know how deep her local connections are. I remembered that when I interviewed Wang Yachen, he asked me, "Where are you staying?" I did not dare tell him, so I said that I have not found a place yet. I cannot fail to take precautions!