The Death of a Shanxi Journalist

The original information came from a Tianya form post that is apparently no longer accessible (except through the Baidu cache or other blogs such as 新闻人的家).  So here it is:

(Tianya)  Hunyuan, Shanxi: Reporter Beaten To Death By Evil Mine Boss!  January 13, 2007.

   山西浑源: 记者被黑心矿主暴打致死 !!!  
      发帖人:爱中华行天下
  
   中国贸易报社驻山西记者站记者兰成长及同事一行三人,于
200718(或9日),前往山西省大同市浑源县对当地无证开采的黑煤矿进行调查采访时,受到当地一黑煤矿主指使的一伙不明身份的暴徒围攻。
  
    兰和同事到了这个煤矿后,为了确保人身安全,分头对矿上的人进行采访,当采访快结束时,矿主(
x四)恼羞成怒,指使一伙不明身份的人将他们团团围住,并且 手棍棒对他们施暴殴打。当时,兰和司机已经在车上了,可是,他们的车被矿方的两辆车挤住了,动弹不了,而他的同事还被困在矿长办公室里。
  
   在被殴打的过程中,兰使劲挣脱跑了出来,但身后的暴徒一直在追赶他。他跑到不远时回头一看,同伴还被困在那里,与此同时,暴徒高喊:
不回来追上你非打死你,要你的命!兰就又返回来了。就是为了保护同伴这一返回,就又被这帮丧心病狂的暴徒以棍棒乱打一顿。
  
    下午
6时许,他们回到大同市,到了当地第三人民医院后兰就不行了,脉搏、呼吸都停了,经过医护人员的抢救后又恢复了生命特征 ,医生检查后确认暂无大碍,继续观察。可是没有想到:第二天上午9时时,因颅内出血抢救无效逝去了。而兰的同事的腿也被打成了粉碎性骨折。司机的头部被打 了一镐把。
  
   而就在事发后的
2007110日,大同市有关部门下发文件,文件中规定,对于没有持新闻出版总署核发的新闻记者证的人员不接受采访,持新闻单位工作证的视为假记者。这难道是巧合吗?

[in translation]

A team of three people consisting of China Trade News' Shanxi bureau reporter Lan Chengzhang and colleagues proceeded on January 8 (or 9), 2007 to Hunyuan county, Datong city, Shanxi city to investigate an illegal coal mine.  They were assaulted by unidentified thugs directed by a local mine boss.

When Lan and colleagues arrived at the mine, they split up and interviewed the miners separately for reasons of personal safety.  When the interviews were over, the mine ordered an unidentified group of people to surround them and assault them with sticks and rods.  At the time, Lan and the driver were already in the car.  But their car was trapped by two of the mine's vehicles and could not move.  Meanwhile, his colleagues were trapped inside the office of the mine director.

During the assault, Lan struggled free and ran away.  But the thugs continued to chase after him.  He ran for some distance and turned about to look.  His colleagues were still stuck back there.  At that time, the thugs were yelling: "Don't come back!  If we catch you, we'll kill you.  We'll take your life!"  Lan came back to defend his colleagues, and received another beating by the cold-blooded thugs.

At 6pm that afternoon, they returned to Datong city.  When they go to the local Number Three People's Hospital, Lan was in bad shape.  His pulse and breathing had stopped.  Through the efforts of the medical staff, his vital signs were restored.  The doctor thought that he would be okay and kept him at the hospital for observation.  Unexpectedly, at 9am the next morning, Lan died due to internal bleeding inside the cranium.  Lan's colleague had a crushed fracture in his leg.  The driver was hit on the head.

On January 10, 2007, on the day after the incident, the relevant department in Datong city issued a document which stipulates that interviews will not be given to those people who do not have reporter's identification as issued by the General Administration of Press and Publications and also that anyone who only holds identification issued by their news units shall be regarded as a fake reporter.  Could this be a coincidence?


(Southern Metropolis Daily)  A Shanxi Incident: A Reporter Gets Beaten Violently To Death At A Coal Mine.  By Tan Renwei.  January 16, 2007.

[in translation]

On January 9, China Trade News's Shanxi bureau reporter Lan Chengzhang was seriously injured after being assaulted by unidentified thugs at a coal mine in Hunyuan county, Datong city.  He was taken to a hospital where he died the next day.  This matter was widely circulated among the reporter circles on the Internet.  After multiple efforts, our reporter has been able to confirm the fact that Lan Chengzhang was assaulted and died.  But the newspaper and the Shanxi authorities have conflicting versions about whether Lan is a reporter.  China Trade News said that Lan Chengzhang was a temporary reporter that it hired and that it intends to defend Lan's rights.  But the Datong authorities denied that Lan was a reporter.  Someone even claimed that Lan was beaten to death after an unsuccessful extortion attempt.

On January 13, the Tianya post <Hunyuan, Shanxi: Reporter Beaten To Death By Evil Mine Boss!> appeared and widely circulated among reporter circles.  The post claimed:

A team of three people consisting of China Trade News' Shanxi bureau reporter Lan Chengzhang and colleagues proceeded on January 8 (or 9), 2007 to Hunyuan county, Datong city, Shanxi city to investigate an illegal coal mine.  They were assaulted by unidentified thugs directed by a local mine boss.

When Lan and colleagues arrived at the mine, they split up and interviewed the miners separately for reasons of personal safety.  When the interviews were over, the mine ordered an unidentified group of people to surround them and assault them with sticks and rods.  At the time, Lan and the driver were already in the car.  But their car was trapped by two of the mine's vehicles and could not move.  Meanwhile, his colleagues were trapped inside the office of the mine director.

During the assault, Lan struggled free and ran away.  But the thugs continued to chase after him.  He ran for a some distance and turned about to look.  His colleagues were still stuck back there.  At that time, the thugs were yelling: "Don't come back!  If we catch you, we'll kill you.  We'll take your life!"  Lan came back to defend his colleagues, and received another beating by the cold-blooded thugs.

At 6pm that afternoon, they returned to Datong city.  When they arrived at the local Number Three People's Hospital, Lan was in bad shape.  His pulse and breathing had stopped.  Through the efforts of the medical staff, his vital signs were restored.  The doctor thought that he would be okay and kept him at the hospital for observation.  Unexpectedly, at 9am the next morning, Lan died due to internal bleeding inside the cranium.  Lan's colleague had a crushed fracture in his leg.

Our reporter was able to contact the person "Aizhonghua Xingtianxia" who made the Tianya post.  According to him, he is acquainted with the reporters at the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News and therefore he heard about the case and then wrote about it.  He has also learned that someone told him that the Shanxi relevant persons are leaning towards defining Lan as a fake reporter.

When a China Trade News worker was interviewed by our reporter by telephone, he confirmed that Lan Chengzhang was a reporter with the newspaper, being hired on a temporary basis less than a month ago.  The person was unfamiliar with the details of the case.  But even if Lan was just a temporary worker, the newspaper will defend the rights of their reporters.  They are presently contacting the Shanxi police.  When the reporter wanted to find out more, the other party hung up.  Telephone calls to the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News were not picked up.

According to the worker from the Datong city office in charge of the "special project against fake newspapers, fake magazines and fake reporters," China Trade News' Shanxi bureau should be a legally established news unit.  But Lan Chengzhang was not a reporter; he was only a temporary worker, because he did not have the proper reporter's identification.  The director of the Shanxi bureau told the local authorities that he did not instruct Lan to gather news at the mine.  Therefore, one cannot say that this was about news gathering, nor can one say that he was beaten to death because Lan died the next day in a hospital.  The whole incident is a fight in which one person was injured (he emphasized that there was only one person, not the two as reported on the Internet).  This is a criminal case in which the perpetrator has not yet been apprehended.  More information will be available after the public security bureau solves the case.

Gu Chengmin of the Datong News Center told our reporter that there was absolutely no case of a reporter being beaten to death.  This was just an ordinary crime which the public security bureau is investigating.  When the perpetrator is apprehended, the truth will be revealed.

It is strange that there was no media reporting after the incident occurred.  According to a reporter from a certain Shanxi newspaper, the incident did take place but they could not publish because they did not know if Lan went to gather news or extort the mine boss.  According to Tianya netizen QingYangAngelar speaking as an informed source, 

According to what I know, this so-called reporter was not a reporter.  They went there not to expose anything.  Their goal was extortion!  Because they could not agree on the amount of money, a fight broke out.  After they were beaten, they did not dare call the police.  They went to the hospital themselves.  When one of them died the next day, the police had to be notified.  Their bureau could not do anything, because the bureau did not send them out there.

Many fake reporters (and even real reporters) will go to extort the Datong coal mine.  Supposedly, this has become an occupation of its own.  I remember that at the Zuoyuan mining disaster on the evening of May 18, the mine boss spent more than 12 million RMB to dispatch the so-called reporters that caught the news early.  A later investigation showed that most of them were fake reporters.

Our reporter called the three mobile telephone numbers that Lan Chengzhang used before his death.  A man claiming to be the brother-in-law picked up on one of them.  He said that it was inappropriate to discuss the case, and to check with the police about the details.

Soon after the incident occurred, Datong city published the <Notice on the Datong city special project against fake newspapers, fake magazines and fake reporters> on January 12.  The notice stated that "any publishing unit without state approval to distribute in public is a fake newspaper/periodical; any person who do not hold a reporter identification issued by the General Administration of Press and Publications is a fake reporter.  It is an illegal activity for fake reporters to gather news.  The interview subject has the right to refuse."

The important point of the project is as follows: "To sell advertisements or market services or collect revenue; to demand payment for print space in the name of publicity; to sell paid news reports; to threaten the use of critical reporting in order to extort money, or collect gift vouchers, or credit cards; to use the excuse of establishing a news branch office in order to gather sub-contractor fees, consulting fees and other benefits; to use the excuse of hiring editors and reporters in order to collect application fees and identification processing fees; to gather news and engage in distribution activities for publications intended solely for internal publication; etc.  All those Reporter Identification holders who behave as fake reporters will be dealt with sternly if found."

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  By Tan Renwei.  January 17, 2007.

After our news report <A Shanxi Incident: A Reporter Gets Beaten Violently To Death At A Coal Mine> was published, there was a huge public response.  Our reporter headed to Shanxi yesterday and learned that Datong city has established a special case squad with 70 police officers investigating this case.  The suspects have been locked down, and the public security bureau is putting in a full effort to arrest them.  China Trade News has also sent people to investigate.

According to a reporter who knew Lan Chengzhang well, he is a local Datong person about 30 years old.  He is kind and gentle.  He has two children, the smallest not even two years old.  Lan Chengzhange worked previously at the China Production Safetfy magazine and Modern Consumption Guide magazine (Taiyuan city).  He was hired by China Trade News on December 3, 2006 as a reporter at the Shanxi bureau.  The Hunyuan public security bureau said that the incident occurred on January 10, but our reporter understood that it was January 9.  On that day, Lang Changzhang hired a Santana 2000 to gather news at a coal mine and he was assaulted.  He died at the Taiyuan city Number 5 People's Hospital.  According to information, when the news got out that Lang Changzhang was assaulted, many Shanxi media reporters went to the Taiyuan city Number 5 People's Hospital on the morning of January 10.  The police sealed off the hospital, and the reporters and the police even clashed with each other.


(Sohu.com via Rednet)

On January 9, China Trade News' Shanxi bureau reporter Lang Changzhang was beaten to death at a Datong city coal mine.  The newspaper and the Shanxi authorities differed in their opinions about whether Lang Changzhang was a reporter.  The following is an interview with Datong city General Administration of Press and Publications division director Liu Dongyue.

Q: How is the case about Lan Chengzhang's death coming along?
A: The suspects have not been apprehended.  The purpose and goal of Lan's visit to the coal mine are still unclear.  The police are investigating.
 
Q: Datong city published a notice to strike against fake reporters on January 10.  Has anyone telephoned to denounce fake reporters?
A: Not yet.

Q: When Luliang city (Shanxi province) began its own campaign against fake journalism, they found 80 fake reporters within 100 days.  Are there a lot of fake reporters in Datong city?
A: There are many coal mines in Shanxi.  There are fake reporters in Datong city.  We have heard about it, but there are very few crime reports and testimonies.  Many of the extorted units would rather "pay them off."  This has emboldened the fake reporters to the point where they are now a public menace.

Q: Is anyone without a <Reporter's Identification> a fake reporter?
A: Strictly speaking, that is a fake reporter because the General Administration of Press and Publications has its regulations.

Q: Do the Datong media often hire temporary reporters?
A: Quite a lot.  This happens across China, not just in Datong.  Therefore, our anti-fakery campaign is intended to regulate this.  Whenever Datong city holds an event, there is a publicity committee formed by the city party committee's publicity department, the General Administration Press and Publication and other relevant departments to greet the reporters and verify their legal status as reporters.

Q: Has Datong city conducted any anti-fakery campaign previously?
A: Yes.  Certain media forge reporter passes.  Certain units are not even media units.  But in order to hold events easier or avoid the toll charges, they forge reporter passes.  Last year, we confiscated many fake reporter passes.

Q: Are there any steps taken beyond confiscating fake ID's?
A: We have an idea right now, but it has not been solidified.  We want to publish the names, photographs and circumstances of those people with fake identification.  We want to publish the information and describe the facts, so that the various units can be alerted and not have to receive those fake reporters.  The various departments will still have to consider whether this is a violation of the image rights of the fake reporters.  When we act against illegal activities, we must make sure that what we do is legal.


(Southern Metropolis Daily) Datong city cannot use "fake reporter" as excuse to let the killers escape.  By Chang Ping.  January 17, 2007.

On January 9, a man was assaulted at a coal mine in Datong (Shanxi) and subsequently died at the hospital.  The local media did not report the case after learning about it, because they supposed did not know whether this was a reporter or extortionist.  It seems that they will not report the deaths of people of uncertain identity.  If there were an airplane disaster in Shanxi, nobody will find out.

Fortunately, there are the Internet and the netizens.  Someone made a post on the Internet and claimed that the deceased Lan Chengzhang was a reporter at the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News.  Lan had gone to Hunyuan county (Datong city) with a colleague to investigate an illegal unlicensed coal mine.  He was attacked by a group of thugs under the direction of the mine boss.  He died after he reached the hospital.  Then someone pointed out that Lan Chengzhang was not a reporter.  He had gone to the mine to extort money, and died after a fight when the discussions failed.

It seemed that nobody cared about who carried out the assault and whether he is the owner of an illegal mine.  The focus was turned to whether the deceased was a fake reporter.  China Trade News has already confirmed that Lan Chengzhang was their reporter.  But the local government seemed far more interested in catching fake reporters than pursuing illegal mines.  Three days after the incident, they published the <Notice on the special Datong city project to combat fake magazines, fake newspapers and fake reporters.>  The notice claimed that "all those who do not hold a Reporter Identification from the General Administration of Press and Publications but engage in news gathering are fake reporters.  It is illegal for fake reporters to gather news, and the interview subjects have the right to refuse."

This "anti-fakery" project had a special leadership group.  A worker in the leadership group was interviewed by a reporter and said that Lan Chengzhang has been identified as a temporary worker at the Shanxi Bureau of China Trade News and therefore not a reporter since he does not own a Reporter Identification.  Therefore, one cannot say that a reporter was beaten to death.  This worker even said that one cannot say that someone was beaten to death, since Lan Chengzhang died in a hospital.  So it seemed that nothing actually happened, except that a person died in a hospital!

I don't know whether Lan Chengzhang went to gather news or extort money.  But it is ignorant and shameful to excuse the thugs using extortion.  Under the law, violence can be justified in proper self-defense.  I have never heard that one can kill someone because of extortion.  Besides, if this was really an illegal mine and someone wants to extort money by threatening exposure, it is very different from the usual kind of extortion.  The Datong authorities skirted around this fact and put the problem on what they believed is the Reporter Identification.

A formal local government notice defined all reporters without the Reporter Identification as fake reporters and declare their news gathering activities to be illegal.  They even set up a special project for this.  This is very ignorant and savage.  The system of professional qualification for reporters began in 2003 with the intention of training and testing the several hundred thousand news reporters before issuing Reporter Identification to them.  According to the regulations at the time, certain people have a five-year transition period.  In March 2005, the <News Reporter Identification Administration Rules>, the new rules removed the restriction of issuing Reporter Identification only to those who gather news and expanded the possibility to those who were formally employed by a news organization but not actually engaged in news gathering.  But the rules require that the applicants be employed for at least one year and worked in news gathering.  Based upon these two sets of rules and regulations, there should be and always will be real reporters without Reporter Identification -- after all, how can you engage in one year of news gathering before you receive the Reporter Identification?

Of course, the relevant departments can re-interpret these flawed rules and regulations.  But the undeniable fact is that many reporters in China do not have Reporter Identification.  Many of them are righteous and professional and they do excellent reporting.  When Datong city openly attack these reporters, the chief editors around China should stand up and examine their consciences: Have you hire any of these "fake reporters"?  Are these "fake reporters" competent?  Should they be attacked?  Should they be protected?

As for the extortion, real and fake reporters stand equal before the law.  Based upon the known past incidents, real reporters are not less aggressive than fake reporters when it comes to extortion.  Just like using the temporary resident permit to define crime, this is against the spirit of the rule of law.

In truth, news professionals are unlike doctors, lawyers and accountants because there is no universal professional standard that can be tested.  Most nations in the world do not have any standards (or at least rigorous ones) for qualifying into this profession.  With the continual expansion of traditional media and the rapid development of new media, this is basically an impossible mission.  For example, if a person without a Reporter Identification witnessed a certain event.  Can he disseminate the information on the Internet?  When a person without a Reporter Identification goes to find out something about a Datong coal mine, should he be surrounded and beaten?

In the case of the death by assault in Datong, the real reporters there did not make a sound.  The netizens who distributed the information are being targeted by Datong city.  What will the outcome be?  What is the meaning of distinguishing real and fake this way?


(Southern Metropolis Daily)  By Tan Renwei.  January 18, 2007.


Lan Chengzhang's China Trade News employee ID

(in translation)

China Trade News' Shanxi bureau worker Lan Chengzhang was beaten to death at a certain coal mine in Hunyuan county, Shanxi province.  Our breaking report generated a huge response.  After our reporter arrived at the location and investigated, the process by which a coalmine warehouse keeper became a reporter and then died became gradually clearer.

According to an authoritative source who wishes to remain anonymous, China Trade News worker Lan Chengzhang and his group arrived just after noon of January 10 at the Shuigou village.  There were the eighth group of "reporters" who came to gather information about the coal mine on this day.  There were three people in the group.  Besides Lan Chengzhang, the others were the temporarily hired driver Cao and Lan's colleague Sheng.  According to the authoritative source, Chang is a 50-something-year-old man with an elementary school education.  He used to be load/unload cargo.  He comes from the same village as China Trade News' Shanxi bureau chief Chang Xuri.  Chang went to the coal mine with the identity as the English-language reporting director of the China Trade News' Shanxi Bureau while Lan Chengzhang's identity was the special topic center director.

A friend of the driver Cao who has declined to show himself so far narrated Cao's account to the reporter yesterday.  Cao said that Lan and Chang first went to a small coal mine in the Siwangpu village, Daren town.  Someone there said, "You go to the office.  Someone will receive you."  Then they took the newspaper's letter of introduction to the Shuigou village office which was several kilometers away.  At the time, there was only one person inside.  There was some conversation.  Cao did not reveal what was said.  After some conversation, the other party picked up the telephone and made a few calls.  Lan and Cao sensed that something was not right and immediately went out.  They waited in the car for Sheng, who did not come out.

Shortly afterwards, two cars came and trapped their car from front and behind.  Several bald-headed men came down from the car.  Lan opened the car door and sprinted away.  After he ran a few meters, he heard the bald-headed men said: "You punk!  If you dare to run, we'll kill you!"  So Lan came back.  The driver was restrained by one bald-headed man.  Lan was restrained by two bald-headed men in the back seat.  According to Shiukou village people, the people from the mine are tough and they dare not interfere with what they do.  Then the bald-headed men took the Lan and Cao back into the office.  When they went in, Cao saw that Sheng's arm had been broken already.  Lan told the bald-headed men: "Do not beat him (meaning the driver Cao).  You can beat me."  In the ensuing struggle, Lan grabbed the collar of one of them.  The other party said, "Are you going to let go or not?"  Lan did not let go.  So one iron bar crashed on Lan's shoulder.  Then his other arm was laid down on the desk and an iron bar smashed down again.  Now both his arms were broken.  Then one of his legs was broken too.

According to a villager who witnessed the process, the mine worker Hou Si slammed a pickaxe handle on the top of Lan's skull.  Blood streamed down Lan's head and covered his face.  He immediately passed out.  The attackers realized that things may have gone too far.  They poured water from the tea pot on Lan's head, but he did not come to.  Then someone used water to clean the floor.  They threatened the three of them not to depart until they received a telephone call.  If they should see them on the road before them, they will continue the beating.  Then the attackers left the scene.  Before leaving, they said, "We have your telephone numbers and addresses.  If you dare call the police, we'll kill your whole families!"

Fifteen minutes later, Cao picked up Lan and placed him in the vehicle.  Together with Sheng, Cao drover towards Datong city.  When they arrived at a toll booth, Lan regained conscious temporarily and only said: "My leg has been crippled."

According to the authoritative source, they arrived at the Datong city Number Five People's Hospital at 630pm.  Lan's brother-in-law Li Wenxian arrived shortly afterwards.  At 9:20am on the morning of January 11, Lan Chengzhang was pronounced dead.  At 9:30am, Lan's brother-in-law finally remembered to call 110.

The Qingciyao mine is one of the many state mines in Datong city.  Lan Chengzhang's late father was a worker in this mine, and his home was in a red-brick house in the mine.  Lan Chengzhang was born in 1972 and he continued to do the same work as his father.  When he grew up, he became a warehouse worker at the mine.  Lan Chengzhang's former supervisor Liu Jiujiang said: "Lan's personality cannot said to be special.  His daily work involved administering equipment such as bearings.  It is fairly routine.  He has two daughters from his marriage.  The five-year-old is ready to begin the school.  His wife does not have a fixed job.  So the 500 plus RMB in wages was inadequate.  More than a year ago, he left the unit.  The mine has stopped paying him wages, but we continue to provide pension and insurance."

After his father passed away, Lan Chengzhang's family moved out of the mine hill.  After leaving his job, Lan has only been back to the mine a few times.  According to Liu Jiujiang, he heard Lan explained that his new job was as "State Administration for Safe Production Supervision safety culture investigator" and his job was to investigate mine casualties and illegal mining.

When Lan Chengzhang left the mine, he became a worker at the Safety Education Weekly Periodical under Modern Consumer Guide in Shanxi province.  His status was not as a reporter.  He was a "safety cultural investigator."

The Modern Consumer Guide chief editor Chen told our reporter yesterday afternoon that Safety Education Weekly hired Lan Chengzhang and other workers in an expansion to meet increasing needs.  "The work of these 40 to 50 people is mainly to investigate the mines and bring safety culture to the grassroots."

There is an Internet post (Xici Hutong's Shanxi Newspaper Industry forum from netizen "Calling 110" with the title "Look at this!  This is really losing face for the Shanxi media!") denied this assertion.  The post said that the sole mission of this group of people is to extort the coal mines.  "If you have any illegal production situation, we can directly report to the State Administration for Safe Production Supervision."  A coal mine boss once called the State Administration for Safe Production Supervision and found out that there was no awareness about any "safety cultural investigator."  So the coal mines will report to the police when these people show up.

Concerning these Internet talk, Modern Consumer Guide's Chen admitted that it is true: "There were flaws during the hiring process.  Most of these workers are trouble-free.  They only have the right to investigate.  They are not real reporters."  Last June/July, Modern Consumer Guide came under pressure from their superiors and re-organized Safety Education Weekly.  "We got rid of that whole group of people."  After "leaving" Safety Education Weekly, Lan Chengzhang was hired by China Trade News' Shanxi bureau.

At the same time that Lan Chengzhang was heading towards Shuigou village in his car on the morning of January 10, Datong city was holding a business meeting on the "special project to combat fake newspapers, fake magazines and fake reporters."  According to the workers at the Datong city party publicity department's press/publishing division, they had begun planning on campaign against fake reporters six months ago.  As to the criticisms that this action was directed specifically at the Lan Chengzhang incident, they were angry because they believed that the two matters were totally unrelated.

Furthermore, they also said that a vice-president from China Trade News came and told them that Lan Chengzhang was a worker who follows up on news tips and cannot be said to be a reporter.

Yesterday afternoon, a member of the Datong city party public department information office said that the public security bureau has been instructed to solve the case with full effort.


(Southern Weekend)  The investigation of the killking of the 'reporter' by the Datong coal mine boss: The news bureau sets up a quota.  By Dai Dunfeng (戴敦峰).  January 18, 2007.

January 11, 2007 was the 15th day of probationary employment for Lan Chengzhang at the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News.  It was also the last day of his life.

This man who is not yet 35 years old died from brain hemorrhaging.  He left not will, just two children under 10 years old and a lot of controversy.

By combining the descriptions from various parties, we can get an approximate sketch of how Lan Chengzhang died.

On the morning of January 10, Lan Chengzhang and his colleague Chang Hanwen rented a taxi in Datong city (Shanxi province) and proceeded to Hunyuan county 60 kilometers away.  His identity was as special topics department director at the Shanxi bureau of China Trade news.  His purpose is to gather information at an illegal coal mine in Hunyuan.

After arriving at Hunyuan, they called the mine boss and was told to meet them at his residence.  On the way over, two mine vehicles appeared and a large group of people jumped out.  They wielded their rods, bars and pickaxes and attacked the three.  Lan was beaten unconscious.  His colleague had a broken arm.  The driver was hit in the head with a pickaxe.

At around 18:00, the driver took Lan Chengzhang and his colleague back to Datong city to receive treatment at the Number 5 Hospital.  On the next morning, 35-year-old Lan Chengzhang died from brain hemorrhaging.

A Datong official confirmed with our reporter that this narrative is basically consistent with what the police knows.  But he also expressed doubts: "But how can it be so simple?  Why would the mine boss send people to attack them for no reason?"

The China Trade News Shanxi bureau leader said that the bureau did not send Lan Chengzhang out to gather news.  The bureau was unaware of this matter.

But the family of Lan Chengzhang said that he brought his China Trade News identification card with him along with a letter of introduction from the news bureau.

"The police has only the story from Lan's colleague," said the aforementioned official.  "As to what happened and why kinds of demands did they propose, it will have to wait for the mine boss to describe."

Datong police told the reporters that the mine owner is currently in flight.  The Shanxi provincial party committee secretary has ordered the local public security bureau to take this investigation seriously and to mobilize the forces to solve the case.

The deceased Lan Chengzhang is a university graduate and he is from Datong city, Shanxi province.  His colleague Chang Hanwen was born in 1955.  He is from Huairen county and has received elementary school education.  He had worked as a loader/unloader and he was hired as the English-language news division director at the bureau.

Prior to working at China Trade News' Shanxi bureau, Lan Chengzhang had worked as the Shanxi reporter for various national-level publications, such as the China Safe Production News.  But Internet searches could not locate any reports under the byline of Lan Chengzhang.

In October 2006, Lan Chengzhang went to work as a reporter in the "Opinion Supervisory Department" of a certain Shanxi newspaper.  The department leader Zhang Dong said that Lan only stayed a month, wrote nothing and resigned for health reasons.

So the China Trade News' Shanxi bureau newly appointed chief found Lan Chengzhang and asked him to work there.

According to a good friend of Lan Chengzhang, Lan told  him: "The news bureau asked me to go there and they gave me a quota of 180,000 RMB per year."  According to a veteran reporter, the commission from such advertisements could be as high as 30%.

As to how to meet the quota, Lan Chengzhang did not speak to anyone else about it.  This made Lan feel that "the pressure is very great."

"There are very few large corporations in Shanxi and the government departments prefer to publicize in media such as Shanxi Daily News."  Li Ping told our reporter.  "Although the coal industry is wealthy, they can dig fast enough to meet the demand.  They don't need any publicity."  Li Ping was the chief of the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News for 11 years, and she retired in December 2006.

Li Ping said: There were a number of corporations that she was on good terms with.  She frequently write some nice reports about them.  Each years, she can get five to six pages of advertisements.  Each page of advertisements costs about 9,000 RMB, of which 70% went to the newspapers while 30% was personal commission.  The news bureau has to be self-funding.  Fortunately, the office was provided rent-free by the Trade Promotion Association and the telephone/fax bill per month was only about 100 RMB.

Yet, this does not mean that every target of the reporting is willing to put up money.  At the "two congresses" of Shanxi province, Li Ping interviewed a People's Congress representative from Mianshan.  This was a coal businessman and Li Ping wrote a report with a big photograph.  But each time that she went to see him for some sponsorship, she was stopped by the secretary.  It is the same thing with the chairman of another coal business in Changzhi.

"Before 2005, things were better at the news bureau.  For three years in a row, we were rated by the newspapers as a leading bureau."  Li Ping said.  But after headquarters began to define our mission for us, it got harder.  In 2005, the target was 50,000 RMB.  In 2006, the target was 100,000 RMB.

China Trade News assistant publisher and news department director Gao Wenwen denied this: "Ever since we re-organized the news bureaus, we do not permit them to engage in advertising sales anymore.  We have not given any revenue quotas to the news bureaus."

Gao Wenwen claimed that there advertisements were handled by advertising agents and totally disconnected to the news bureaus.  But at this time, China Trade News does not have an agent in Shanxi province.

On January 10, 2007, on the same morning that Lan Chengzhang set out to Hunyuan, the relevant departments in Datong city issued the <Notice of the special Datong city project to combat fake periodicals, fake newspapers and fake reporters."  The emphasis was about "To sell advertisements or market services or collect revenue; to demand payment for print space in the name of publicity; to sell paid news reports; to threaten the use of critical reporting in order to extort money, or collect gift vouchers, or credit cards, etc."

"This notice has not relationship to the death of Lan Chengzhang, but they happened to be coincidental in time."  An official in a relevant department said.  It took six months from the draft to the completion of the notice, and it had not been written in response to the death of Lan Chengzhang.  "On the day when he was beaten to death, the government issued the article.  What kind of government department can produce an article so quickly?"

The notice was aimed at the proliferation of fake reporters in Datong city in recent years.  Actually, the presence of illegal elements posing as fake reporters to extort money is a very troublesome problem in various mining cities in Shanxi.  According to an informed source, there are about 600 fake reporters active in Datong.

"Everybody knows what the so-called sponsorship means."  A local reporter said.  "You know how hard it is to write an article.  There is also the risk that it will not be printed.  Even if it is printed, you only get 100 RMB or so in compensation.  Therefore many wave the flag of reporters to go to the mines, where there will always be some sort of problem."

Prior to publication, our reporter contacted the China Journalists Association.  According the person in charge of the rights defense office, "The association is paying a high degree of attention to this case.  It is trying to understand the situation from China Trade News.  It is inappropriate to comment at this time."


(Xici Hutong's ReporterHome forum)  By Liushuang83314.  January 18, 2007.

[in translation]

At the famous coal mining city of Datong in Shanxi, the proliferation of fake reporters has been a huge concern to coal mine owners during the past two years.  In this  underground battle, the fake reporters can come from a small media outlet that cannot possibly have any reportage on the problems at coal miners -- these media publish soft articles and are struggling to survive, so their leader dream up all sorts of way to increase revenue and make the reporters at the news bureau come up with workers who are totally inexperienced in news gathering and who go around holding realistic identifications to commit extortion at the coal mines.  Since these illegal coal mines are engaged in production against the law and they are accustomed to spend money to deal with problems such as industrial casualties, they are quite content to spend ten thousand RMB to dispatch these unexpected reporters.  However, when these reporters who never write anything keep showing up day after day, they will think of solutions other than monetary payments.  Apart from black gold, the solution is assassination.  These are the two methods that can be used.

In the case of the death of Lan Chengzhang, fellow reporters are outraged.  But we are sorry to say that Lan Chengzhang's letter of introduction to gather news at the coal mine had a blank addressee.  The reporters had a brief conversation with the mine owner before they were attacked by the thugs.  The content of that conversation is unknown at this time.  Lan Chengzhang was the eighth group of reporters to show up to gather information at this illegal coal mine.  The first seven groups have not published any reports on this illegal coal mine.

Once I learned about the personal history of Lan Chengzhang, I am even more dubious.  He was hired recently by the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News and he held a news gathering permit and a letter of introduction when he went to the coal mine.  One and a half years ago, he was a warehouse worker.  The first job that he held after leaving the mine was as a highly controversial "safety cultural investigator under the Modern Consumer Guide -- the mission of the several dozens of investigators there was to "deliver safety culture to the grassroots" but actually some of them claimed that they wanted to understand the casualty and hidden safety problems at the mines and thus forced the mine owners to pay them off  After these fraudsters were arrested by the police, Modern Consumer Guide dismissed the entire group.  I don't know whether Lan Chengzhang left because he was outraged by what was happening at work or because he was let do during the mass dismissal.  With his media experience, he was able to join the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News and he obtained a stamped news gathering identity kit and a red-lettered letter of introduction.

I would rather believe that Lan Chengzhang was a grassroots person with a journalistic ideal.  His death is the tragic outcome of the phenomenon of fake reporters.  It does not matter what he talked to the mine owner about, but it is for certain that the appearance of the seven groups of reporters before him who published nothing is the reason why the dark forces were angered.

According to Lan Chengzhang's relative named Li, the family has proof that Lan Chengzhang went to coal mine on duty.  "At the time, he held a letter of introduction from the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News.  We have the material in our hands."

At 10pm last night, the Xinmin Chenbao reporter made personal contact with the relative of the deceased.  The party produced the relevant letter of introduction and identifications.  The reporter saw that the letter of introduction stated: "We are presenting our newspaper reporter Lan Chengzhang to gather information at your location.  Please provide all assistance."  The letter of introduction had the seal of the Shanxi bureau of the China Trade News stamped at the bottom.  On the "News Work Permit" that Lan Chengzhang carried with him, there was also the seal of the Shanxi bureau of China Trade News.

The relatives of Lan Chengzhang said that they have been silent for many days and they have not received the forensic report as yet.  The Hunyuan public security bureau director named Guo told them verbally that "death had been caused by blunt instruments with multiple injuries to the cranium leading to brain hemorrhaging."  The corpse is presently held at the funeral home, because there is no documentary statement as yet.

According to the family, China Trade News as not yet sent anyone to meet with the family.  Worse yet, there has been a large amount of information about "fake reporters" that cast doubts on the status of Lan Chengzhang.  They urged the relevant departments to verify the facts and give them an explanation.


(Christian Science Monitor)  Beating death chills Chinese media.  By Peter Ford.  January 19, 2007.

On Wednesday afternoon last week, in this remote farming village tucked into the snow-dusted hills of Shanxi Province, Lan Chengzhang was beaten to death in the frozen mud of a walled courtyard.

At first glance, he died a martyr to press freedom, courageously investigating conditions in the notoriously dangerous illegal coal mines that dot the region. But as local authorities here launch a campaign against "fake journalists" extorting money from mine owners in return for not reporting their activities, doubts have surfaced about just what Mr. Lan was doing when he met his death.

The proliferation of newspapers and magazines that appear to exist primarily as organs of extortion, and authorities' bid to rein them in, are both cause for deep concern among legitimate Chinese reporters, who fear they may be tarred with the same brush as they seek to push the boundaries of acceptable journalism.

"This phenomenon is really harmful to Chinese media," says one reporter for a metropolitan daily who asked not to be identified as he may not talk to foreign journalists. "If the government moves to control this sort of thing, perhaps they will move to control us more, too."

Lan was hired Jan. 3 as a reporter in the Shanxi bureau about 300 miles west of Beijing of the China Trade News, according to the paper's chief editor, Wang Jianfeng.

Barely a week later, he was seen with a colleague in a violent altercation with the owner of an illegal coal mine outside the mine office in this tiny village of mud and straw houses.

"I saw four men beating them up with big sticks really hard," says Xiao Zhou, who says he watched the killing from his village shop next to the mine office, not daring to intervene. "They just hit them really hard and kept shouting 'beat them, beat them.' Their faces were covered with blood."

Lan was declared dead the next morning at a hospital in nearby Datong. His colleague is in hiding.

Immediately after the beating, Mr. Zhou says, the mine owner and his three accomplices shut the office and left in their cars. They have not been seen since. Datong police have made "major strides" in their investigation, according to the head of the criminal-affairs division, who identified himself by his family name, Ren, but no arrests have been made.

The coal mines of Shanxi China's largest coal-producing region have attracted media scrutiny for some time. Last year, official figures show, 4,746 people died in mines averaging 13 a day.

Chinese government officials have acknowledged that local authorities often connive with mine owners who bribe them to ignore safety lapses. Local farmers say the mine owner who has vanished was in league with local officials: The office, they say, was in a building belonging to the road department.

"They are all corrupt, and that includes the village party secretary," says a villager in Xi Wang Pu, a township just up the road from the mine, which is now blocked by piles of earth.

Lan's purpose in visiting the mine office was unclear. His paper, affiliated with the quasigovernmental China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, has never published articles on mine safety, Mr. Wang says. Lan had been with the paper for only a week and "nobody sent him on any assignment to that mine," according to Wang.

Lan had no reporting experience, according to an article in the "Shanghai Morning Post," a Communist Party daily, whose reporter has been on the scene since soon after news of Lan's death broke in an anonymous posting on a well-read news and opinion Web forum.

Instead, he worked as a storeman at a state mine in Datong until about a year ago, the paper said, quoting his former boss. He is then said to have joined "Safety Education Weekly" in the provincial capital Taiyuan, but lost his job as a "researcher" last year when the paper was closed after charges that it was a front for blackmailing businessmen with threats of critical articles.

The respected "Southern Weekly" quoted a former Shanxi bureau chief for China Trade News as saying that reporters were expected to bring in 100,000 RMB ($12,864) each last year, of which they could keep a third. Wang denied that charge in a phone interview.

The phenomenon of people posing as journalists to extort money from businesses is not uncommon in China: A man went on trial this week in Beijing for threatening to write a critical article on his consumer website about a health-care firm unless it paid him more than $480,000.

But in Datong, where illegal mine owners are especially vulnerable to threats that their activities will come to the attention of Beijing authorities, city officials say the problem has reached such proportions that they have launched a campaign against it. The drive, however, could also be seen as an attempt by corrupt officials to protect themselves from legitimate criticism. "The Special Campaign Against Fake Journalists and Illegal News Publications," an-nounced on the Datong municipal website, defined "all newspapers and magazines without government permission" as "illegal," and states that "all journalists without a press card issued by the National News and Publications Bureau are considered fake journalists."

Its provisions, including a ban on "publishing internal material not supposed to be published," give local authorities wide powers to silence journalists.

Lan, who was not yet entitled to an official license, would have been considered a "fake journalist" under the decree.

His death, says the reporter who broke the story, "is not a big sensational murder, but it illustrates a big issue: Will the authorities protect our right to work? The problem is that it's the local government who decides who is and who isn't a journalist."

Lan's death has attracted growing media attention. Scores of reporters from around China have descended on Datong, using the story to raise questions about their profession.

The National News and Publications Bureau has registered nearly 175,000 Chinese journalists, but more than four times that many work in the field, by some estimates. "Because of the government quotas, not everyone can be legal," says a reporter for a city newspaper who is covering the case. "A lot of real reporters are considered fake because they can't get a license. If they crack down on reporters without licenses, they'll stop a lot of real reporters, too."

"Anyway, we are all citizens," she adds. "If Lan found something wrong going on, why shouldn't he uncover it? This story is not about whether he was fake or not, it's about citizens' rights."


(Southern Metropolis Daily)  By Tan Renwei.  January 19, 2007.

[in translation]

The case of the beating death of China Trade News' Shanxi bureau worker Lan Chengzhang at a small coal mine in Hunyuan count (Shanxi province) has seen a new development.  The police disclosed yesterday that three of the suspects have been apprehended, although the mastermind is still in flight.  The Hunyuan county State Land Resources Bureau confirmed that the coal mind at which the assault took place was an illegal coal mine that was producing coal.  When the reporter went to the coal mind, he observed that the small coal mine has been filled up after the incident.  The road to the mine has also been blocked by large amounts of earth.

According to the police, the Datong police is treating this case very seriously.  They have now determined that the mastermind Hou Si's real name is Hou Zhenrun and he is an laid off worker from Hunyuan.  He is presently a fugitive.  In addition, the suspect Cheng Wenping has been arrested while the suspect Cheng Hongrui surrendered himself to the police.  It is not clear what happened to the third arrested suspect.

The incident occured at Xiwangpu village, Darenzhuang village, Hunyuan county.  When the reporter went there to investigate, he found the road to the mine was blocked by large amounts of earth.  The principal well into to coal mine was filled up with yellow earth.  The entire mine area was deserted.  According to the local villagers, the mine pit has been in operation for more than a year.  Four months ago, it was sold to the current owner.  There were several dozen miners.  It is very small-scale.  After the incident, all the people have fled.

The Hunyuan county Safety Supervision Bureau leader sid that he had not received any safety reports concerning the Xiwangpu village coal mine.  His supervisory team has been going after illegal coal mines, including the Xiwangpu coal mine at which the murder took place.

According to Lan Chengzhang's brother-in-law Li Wenxian, China Trade News as only called to send condolences so far.  There has been no in-person visits.  The newspaper told them that they are dealing with the government and preferred the family to maintain silence (or else they would be responsible for the consequnes).  They showed the work identification document of Lan Chengzhang.  This work identification is almost identical to the News Reporter Identification issued by the General Administration of Press and Publications, except the world Reporter (记者) has been replaced by Worker (工作).  In his duty section, the words were "director of special topics center."  The document was stamped by the official seal of China Trade News and the date of issue was December 27, 2006.  Also, the letter of introduction that Lan Chengzhang held on the day said: "Our newspaper reporter Lan Chengzhang (one person) is going to gather information at your place."  The date was January 10, on which the incident occurred.

Yesterday, the reporter interviewed China Trade News deputy director Liu Defei.  He said that the newspaper will issue a formal statement in two days.  The statement will be released on the Internet as well as in their newspaper.  He did not say anything else.

=====


The Press Card from GAPP (News Reporter Identification)


The Working Card of Lan Chengzhang (News Worker Identification)


(Xici Hutong ReporterHome's Shanxi Newspaper Industry forum)  January 18, 2007.

[in translation]

1. Brief summary of case.

Around 9am on January 10, 2007, China Trade News Shanxi bureau employees Lan Chengzhang and Chang Hanwen were attacked by persons led by Hou Zhenrun at a filled-in mining location north of Siwangpu village, Darenzhuang town, Hunyuan county.  Lan Chengzhang died from injuries at 9:20pm on January 11, 2007 at the Datong city Number Five People's Hospital.  At 9:35am on January 11, 2007, Li Wenxian (the brother-in-law of Lan Chengzhang) called 110 to file a police report with the Datong city public security bureau.

After the Datong public security bureau received the call, they began the investigation quickly.  According to Chang Hanwen, at 9am on January 10, Lan Chengzhang called him to go out to a coal mine in Hunyuan county which has not completed all its procedures,  The two then rented a Santana car in Datong city and headed towards Hunyuan county.  On the way, Lan told Sheng: "If only we can find the mine owner today in Hunyuan and show him our identification, the other party will have to give us at least 1,000 RMB."  When they arrived at Shuigou village near Siwangpu village in Hunyuan county, they walked to the small coal mine and found nobody there.  There was no sign of production activity.  Lan Chengzhang then found the mine's watchman Zhang Gengen and told him: "We received a tip that your mine has not completed all the procedures but you have already begun production.  We need to speak to the boss to understand the situation."  Zhang Gengen then gave the telephone number of Hou Zhenrun to Lan, who called Hou to ask for a meeting.  Hou Zhenrun said that he would wait at the Datong Five Continents Hotel.  Lan said that he was not going there and will wait at the mine instead.  At around 4pm, Hou Zhenrun brought eight people over in two vehicles.  He directed his accomplices to assault Lan and Chang and then the attackers fled.  Afterwards, the rental car's driver took Lan and Chang to the Datong city Number 5 People's Hospital.  According to the forensic doctor, Lan Chengchang suffered multiple soft tissue damage, skull contusions, cranium fracture and brain hemorrhaging which led to his death.  Chang Hanwen suffered a broken bone in his right arm, plus mild injuries on both legs, left hand and chest.

2. Basic background on the victims and criminal suspects.

(2) The background of the victims.

Lan Chengzhang, male, born April 18, 1972.  Originally a Datong city mine district person.  Technical school experience.  Lives in the dormitory of the Datong city municipal tobacco bureau.  Hired on December 26, 2006 as the China Trade News' Shanxi bureau's special topics department director.

Chang Hanwen, male, born April 25, 1955.  Originally a resident of Huairen county, Shanxi province.  Elementary school education.  Lives in Datong city, Qingtong district.  Hired on January 4, 2007 as China Trade News' Shanxi bureau's English-language news department director.  Previously, he was a self-employed worker.

According to China Trade News' Shanxi bureau chief Chang Xuri (also from Huairen county, Shanxi province just like Chang Hanwen): Lan Chengzhang and Chang Hanwen are both employees of the bureau.  On December 26, 2006, he gave the news worker identification kit from China Trade News to Lan Chengzhang.  Chang Hanwei's news worker identification kit was being processed.  Both are under probation.  Their main duty is to find news leads and they do not have the right to conduct interviews.  On January 10, the bureau did not arrange for Lan Chengzhang and Chang Hanwen to go to conduct interviews in Hunyuan county, and they did not inform the bureau.  The bureau did not know where they went.  Theirs was a purely personal action.

(2) The background of the criminal suspects.

Hou Zhenrun, male, 29, Huainren county resident.  A Datong city precision tools factory laid-off worker.  Presently living in a dormitory of the Datong city buildings committee.  Owner of an illegal mine.  Presently in flight.

Wu Qiang, male, 32, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Presently in flight.

Kong Quanming, male, 28, Ying county resident.  Chauffeur for Hou Zhenrun.  Presently in flight.

Cheng Wenping, male, 22, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Arrested.

Ma Li, male, 21, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Arrested.

Cheng Hongrui, male 28, Hunyuan county resident.  Employee of Hunyuan county Wucheng school.  Surrendered himself to police.

The situations of three more suspects are being investigated.

3. The condition at the mine involved in the case.

According to information from the Hunyuan State Land Resources Bureau and the Darenzhuang town government, the mine north of the Siwangpu village was initially opened up privately in the winter of 2005 by Siwangpu villager Fan Guanlin.  After it was discovered, the government filled it up.  In the spring of 2006, the town government received a tip of more activity and went there to dynamite the site and sealed it up.  On January 11, 2007, the Hunyuan public security bureau proceeded to the site for an inspection and found that the mine showed no sign of production activity.


(Xinhua)  Coal mine boss arrested in reporter murder case.  January 20, 2007.

A coal mine owner suspected of ordering a gang of thugs to beat up a newspaper employee, which led to his death, has been arrested in north China, a local government source said on Saturday.  Hou Zhenrun, owner of a n illegal coal mine in Shanxi Province, handed himself over to the police late on Friday night, Gu Shengming, a spokesman with Datong city government told Xinhua.  Hou allegedly gathered eight people to carry out the assault on Lan Chengzhang, and his colleague Chang Hanwen, two employees of the China Trade News, when the two men attempted to investigate Hou's illegal mine in Hunyuan County on January 10.

Lan died of a brain haemorrhage the next morning in hospital. Chang suffered a broken right arm and minor injuries in the attack.  However, the head of the newspaper's Shanxi office said the two, who were employed to collect clues for the paper, were not authorized to conduct reporting missions and their investigation on the coal mine was only "personal behavior".  Lan had an employee's card issued by the Beijing-based newspaper, according to the head of the paper's Shanxi office.  However, only a press card issued by the State Press and Publication Administration can serve as a valid certificate of a journalist's identity.

According to the police, Lan told Chang en route to the coal mine that the mine owner could "at least give us 1,000 yuan (128 U.S dollars) once we show him our identity."

Lan found a doorman of the mine Zhang Gengen and told him they wanted to talk with the mine boss about the mine's operation as they had received reports the mine was run illegally.  Zhang gave the telephone number of Hou who was then in Dadong City. Hou asked Lan on the phone to go to Datong to talk but Zhang insisted on waiting for Hou at the mine.

At 4 p.m., Hou took eight people to the mine and asked them to assault on Lan and Chang.  Hou and the eight fled the scene after the beating.

Police are also questioning three people out of the group of eight suspected of carrying out the beatings. The men are Zheng Wenping and Ma Li, both unemployed from Nanjiao District of Datong City, and Zheng Hongrui, a native of Hunyuan County.


(Southern Metropolis Daily)  By Tan Renwei.  January 24, 2007.

[in translation]

At a press conference in Datong city yesterday, more details about the Lan Chengzhang case was reported.  According to the report, on the morning of January 10, Lan Chengzhang asked his colleague Chang Hanwen to go with him in a rented car to a Hunyuan county coal mine with incomplete paperwork to gather news.  On the way, they encountered two men and one woman.  One of those was Huang Yanxin (according to China Trade News Shanxi bureau chief Chang Xuri, Huang Yanxin is a worker at <China Forum>) and they all went to the coal mine office.  Lan Chengzhang obtained from the watchman Zhang Gangan the telephone number of the coal mine owner Hou Zhenrun (also known as Hou Si).  Chang Hanwen and Huang Yanxin called Hou separately for meetings.  Hou subsequently called the Datong resident worker Meng Er of <Legal Daily>'s Shanxi office to ask about how to distinguish between real and fake reporters.  Meng told Hou to ask to examine the press cards and then give him a call.

After the telephone call, Huang and his people left while Lan and Chang stayed to wait for Hou.  Hou Zhenrun brought along seven persons including Wu Qiang, Zheng Wenping and Ma Li in two cars.  On the way to Hunyuan, Hou called Wu Qiang and said: "If these are real reporters, we will treat them nicely and give them some money.  If these are fake reporters, we will punish them."

At around 4pm, Hou Zhenrun and company arrived at the coal mine.  At the office, Hou met Chang Hanwen and asked what this was about.  Chang Hanwen said, "We are <China Trade News> reporters and we are looking for raw story material.  Your mine does not have the paperwork.  How can you be operating?"  Hou said: "What's the point?  You take some money and forget it."  Chang Hanwen said, "You tell me."  Hou asked Chang Hanwen to show him the press card.  Then he took the press card outside the office and called Meng Er.  Meng said, "It is fake if it does not have the seal of the General Administration of Press and Publications."  Hou looked and did not see the seal.  He returned to the office and told Chang Hanwen: "Your press cards do not have the seal of the General Administration of Press and Publications.  You just go around all day extorting people?  Are you blind?"  Hou then instructed Wu Qiang, Zheng Wenping, Ma Li and others to assault Lan Chengzhang and Chang Hanwen.  Afterwards, Hou left Lan and Chang with 1,000 RMB apiece and then left with the others.

According to the report, the case drew the attention of CCP Secretary General Hu Jintao, CCP Politburo standing member Li Changchun, Minister of Security Zhou Yongkang and Deputy Minister of Security Bai Jingfu.


(Beijing Youth Daily)  January 26, 2007.

Yesterday, the Datong city public security bureau announced that  two additional suspects Gao Bo and Li Zihong surrendered to the police on January 24.  At this time, only one suspect is still in flight.  Upon investigation, on the day of the incident, Li Zihong asked suspects Gao Bo and Ma Li to "conduct business."  Afterwards, Li received 700 RMB from the mine boss.  Each of the three suspects got 200 RMB, and the remaining 100 RMB was used to pay for the transportation.


(Wen Wei Po via Wenxue City)  According to Lan Chengzhang's laywer Xu Zhanqin, the murder case of reporter Lan Chengzhang by an operator of an illegal coal mine in Shanxi was rapidly solved after Secretary-General Hu Jintao personally issued a directive.  As a result, Lan Chengzhang's eldest daughter Lan Lulin asked the lawyer to forward a personal letter of thanks to Secretary-General Hu after her father was buried on February 14.  
 
13-year-old Lan Lulin wrote that just when the family felt helpless after the death of Lan Chengzhang, Secretary-General Hu gave an directive marked as important.  "Then the reporters came to our home; the police uncles quickly arrested the criminals; Xu Zhanqin and others from the Beijing Lawyers Association provided legal aid; the Central Legal Committee's Huang Jingjun provided kind help to us so that my dad's affairs can be dealt with in accordance with the law."

Lan Lulin said that she wants to be a reporter when she grows up.


(BBC News)  June 28, 2007.

Seven men have been jailed over the beating to death of a journalist outside an illegal coal mine in China, state media reports.

The head of the mine, Hou Zhenrun, was jailed for life for ordering the attack that killed reporter Lan Chengzhang outside the mine in Shanxi province.

Five men were given sentences of between five to 15 years in jail for carrying out the attack, while another man received a year sentence for harbouring the suspects.

The court in Shanxi sentenced Hou to life in prison for causing the death of another by malicious injury.

Mr Lan's family were also awarded 300,000 yuan ($40,000) in compensation from the defendants.



大同市打击假报假刊假记者专项行动通告   

  来源: 大同政府网 2007-01-12 08:28:37
   为贯彻落实《新闻记者证管理办法》、《报社记者站管理办法》、《新闻采编人员从业管理规定》,严厉打击非法新闻机构、非法记者站、假记者的不法行为,规范大同市新闻单位和新闻记者正常的采访行为,加强对新闻队伍的管理,为构建和谐大同营造良好的新闻舆论环境。
   经市委、市政府同意,市打击假报假刊假记者专项工作领导组、市公安局、市新闻出版局决定在全市范围开展打击假报假刊假记者专项行动,现将有关事项通告如下:
   一、凡未经国家批准的出版单位在社会上公开发行的报纸、期刊均为假报假刊;凡不持有新闻出版总署核发的《新闻记者证》,从事采访活动的人员均为假记者。假 记者的新闻采访系非法活动,被采访对象有权拒绝,并有责任向专项工作领导组办公室、公安机关和新闻出版部门举报。市专项工作领导组办公室、市公安局、市新 闻出版局受理假报假刊假记者的举报查处工作,举报电话是: 市领导组办公室:6021102 市公安局:5056798 市新闻出版局:5357949
   二、本次行动的重点是:
   (一)、查处取缔非法新闻机构 未经批准,擅自在大同市设立的报纸、期刊出版单位、各类图书和丛书编辑部、编委会,以港澳台刊号从事编辑、出版、发行活动等。
   (二)、查处取缔非法记者站 报社、期刊社、通讯社和广播电视台未经批准擅自在大同市设立的记者站或类似记者站的办事处、通联站、工作站等机构,其他组织或者个人擅自设立的记者站或者类似记者站的办事处、通联站、工作站等机构,或者假冒、盗用记者站名义进行活动的。
   (三)、查处假记者 未取得新闻出版总署颁发的《新闻记者证》的人员、持仿制《新闻记者证》或违法印制的采访证的人员,持新闻媒体工作证在大同市进行新闻采访的人员等。
   (四)、查处新闻记者违规违纪行为 以采访名义拉广告、搞经营、搞创收的行为;以宣传报道为名义收取版面费、搞有偿新闻的行为;以批评报道相要挟进行新闻敲诈,索要钱财,收取有价证券、信用 卡等行为;以设立新闻分支机构为名收取承包费、挂名费、好处费等行为;以招聘采编人员为名,收取报名费、办证费等;内部资料性出版物从事采访、征订发行活 动等。对《新闻记者证》持有者充当假记者后盾的,一经查实严肃处理。
   (五)、查处印制、悬挂新闻调查、新闻采访等新闻采访标志的车辆和人员 根据国家有关法规规定,各新闻单位和个人一律不得在车辆上印制、悬挂新闻采访、新闻调查、新闻观察等含有新闻和采访标志的牌子。请各新闻单位做好自查自纠工作。否则,一经发现,除责令其立即摘除外,将按有关法规严肃处理。
   三、新闻记者的真伪可在全国新闻记者证管理及检验网络系统、中国记者网中查询。 网址为:〈http://press.gapp.gov.cn/〉。
   特此通告
   大同市打击假报假刊假记者专项工作领导组
   大同市公安局
   大同市新闻出版局
   二00七年一月十日
  
  文件出处 http://www.dt.gov.cn/dtgov/cn/zwpd/bmkx/bmkxnr/3254/20070112/58443.html


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