Xinjiang Newspaper Gets Privately Banned

(Yaxin via MOP)  The Largest Newspaper in Xinjiang Gets Banned By Mogul.   April 20, 2009.

At 8:55am on April 16, the warehouse distribution delivery person was about
to distribute the newspaper to Guangsheng District residents, but the security
guards barred him from entry.  Unable to enter, the delivery person could only
distribute newspaper copies to residents who come out for a stroll.

At 9:10am on April 16, the security guards tell the delivery person to leave
even though he was outside the district area.

At 9:10am on April 16, even though the delivery person is outside the district entrance,
the security guards are still chasing him away.

At 8:19am on April, 16, in front of the Huijia Garden district on
East First Pingshan Street in Urumqi, the security guards rushed up to
surround the Morning News delibery person.

At 17pm on April 17, 2009, a meeting was called for the security guards and
managers of the Jingdu district in Guanghui.  Afterwards, notices were posted
on all the apartment entrances for all residents to read.

At 3:00pm on April 16, the Taixiang Building Management
posted notices that delivery of Morning News will be suspended.
because that newspaper does not accurately reflect the
"line and policies of the Party" and therefore the superiors
have instructed that the newspaper not be allowed into the building.

On April 16 in front of Xinjiang Guanghui's Red October District, the delivery people
were blocked by the security guards from delivering

At 8am on APril 16, in front of the Guanghui
Red October district entrance, the delivery pesron
was also blocked from delivering to subscribers

At 9:50am on April, 16, two Morning News delivery persons were blocked from entry
by security guards at the entrance to Jiahua Garden on Tianjin Road

At around 6am on April 16, just like any other morning, Kou Haiwen showed up on time at the entrance to the Tianjin Road Jiahua Garden district under the Guangsheng district (Xinjiang).  The two security guards on duty blocked him and told this delivery person for the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News that he would not be allowed to enter the district to distribute the newspaper.

Kou Haiwan could not understand it.  He knew the security guards from before.  What was happening?

"Don't make it hard on us.  You are a worker, and so are we."  The security guards told him: "On April 15, all the districts in Guangsheng district received instructions from above to ban Morning News delivery persons from entering the districts to distribute the newspaper.  The instructions also say to dismantle the newspaper boxes.  But we don't know the specific reasons for doing so."

Xinjiang Guangsheng Investiment Group Limited is one of the biggest private enterprises in Xinjiang.  Its board chairman Sun Guangxin is regularly present on the Forbes and Hurun lists of wealthy individuals.  The Xinjiang Guanghui Property Management Limited Company is one of its subsidiaries.  According to information, the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Management Company administers a total of 73 residential neighborhoods in which almost 70,000 households reside.  All the security guards of Guanghui Property Management Company took uniform action on this day.

At this time, all the Morning News distribution boxes inside the Guanghui Meilin Garden district on South Changchun Road in Urumqi city have been dismantled, leaving only holes on the white concrete walls.  "There were 57 distribution boxes in the district and they are all gone. "  Li Yuanpei who heads the Morning News distribution station at North Beijing Road walked around the district and could not find a single distribution box left.

In front of the Guangsheng district, the delivery person was prevented from entering and so he decided to distribute copies to the buildings outside.  But a security stopped him and said: "No delivery to the ground-level shops either." 

Another security guard told the delivery person: "Don't hang around the district.  Go farther away.  Morning News must not be seen within a distance of 500 meters from the district."

By this time, there were a dozen or so security guards in front of the entrance to the Huijia Garden district.  Whenever they saw a resident holding a newspaper, they would go up and check to see if it is the Morning News.  If so, they would inquire where the resident had purchased that newspaper.

When the delivery person arrived, the dozen or so security guards rushed up.  One of them picked up the Morning News, flipped through a few pages and said aloud: "You cannot come too close to the district.  You are not allowed to distribute the Morning News around the district."

So the delivery persons parked his bicycle more than 10 meters away from the district and began to call the subscribers by phone one by one to tell them to come out and fetch their newspapers.

According to delivery person Yang Junhong who is responsible for distributing in the Sun Moon Starlight district: "A few senior citizens including some Morning News subscribers came back from morning exercises, and I gave them their copies.  But the security guards rushed up to stop me.  They took away more than 700 newspaper copies by force."

At around 1pm, the Morning News distribution station chief and the delivery person came to the Sun Moon Starlight district estate management office to negotiate.  The person in charge said that the newspaper copies may be returned, but the delivery person must not distribute the newspaper in the district again unless new orders arrive.

At the same time, in front of the Taixi Garden district, the Morning News delivery person called the police after failing to get past the security guards.  The Urumqi city West River Dam police station dispatched two militia police officers to the scene quickly.  The police officers tried to mediate, but the security guard captain on duty refused to budge.

"People have the right to read their newspapers.  What right do you have to deprive them of their rights?"  "He is just trying to deliver newspapers and he is not getting in your way.  What right do you have to prevent him from delivering newspapers?"  In the face of these questions from the militia police officers, the captain said repeatedly: "I am just obeying the will of my leader.  Please don't make it hard on me."

"Which leader told you do this?  Ask that leader to come here."  Faced with the questions, the captain said that on the afternoon of April 15, the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Management Limited Company summoned all their district property managers to a meeting to tell them that as of April 16, all districts will not allow Morning News delivery persons to enter.  The captain then made a few calls and came back to say: "The leader is very busy now and he cannot come over."  The militia police officers took the captain down to the police station for further interrogation while telling the other security guards not to stop the Morning News from distributing the newspaper.  But as soon as the militia police officers left, several more security guards appeared and they continued to obstruct the delivery person from entering.

At the entrance to the Huixi Garden district on Qitai Road, the security guard said: "The company headquarters said that if so much as one copy of Morning News gets in, I will lose my job.  If three copies get in, our district property management office director will also lose his job.  Right now, the security guards in the district are working 12 hour shifts.  There are security guards at each entrance specifically checking to make sure that the Morning News does not get inside the district."

Normal delivery of the Morning News has been disrupted.  But even retail sales of the Morning News was interfered with.  At the kiosk in front of the Huijia Garden district, the Morning News was not allowed to be sold.  "The security guards will seize any copies of the Morning News that they see," said the kiosk owner.

In front of the Jiahua Garden district, 72-year-old newspaper vendor Mr. Jing saw his 50 copies of Morning News confiscated by security guards.  He was frightened and asked: "What reactionary report did the Morning News publish to get confiscated?"

Mr. Jing said: "I have been selling newspapers in front of the Jiahua Garden district entrance for two years already.  But this is the first time that I have come across anything like this."

On April 16 when the ban on the delivery of Morning News began in the various districts, many subscribers gathered in front of the entrances to ask the security guards why the Morning News was being allowed in.

Yesterday morning when the reporter arrived at the entrance of Jingdu District, four or five senior citizens surrounded two security guards saying: "It is our right to read newspapers.  You tell us why we can't read the Morning News anymore!"

Faced with the questions, the security guards only emphasized that these were orders from above and they do not know the exact reasons.

The security guard in front of Huifu Garden said that the notice came from the Xinjiang GUanghui Property Management Limited Company that there has been a large amount of promotional materials for evil cults inside the Morning News distribution boxes and the city public security bureau has demanded that Morning News to rectify the situation.  The Huijia Garden Property Management people gave the same explanation but in greater detail: "It is the public security bureau which is banning the Morning News delivery people from entering the district.  The districts are not letting the Morning News delivery people in because they received a notice from the public security bureau.  The public security bureau is demanding that they clean themselves up and stop the distribution of their newspaper meanwhile."

At Jiahua Garden, Huixuan Garden, Huifang Garden and other districts, the property managers told the subscribers and delivery persons that the Morning News delivery persons often steal things once they enter the district.  The Huifang District person said: "The quality of the Morning News delivery persons is poor and they do not carry identification.  Therefore we are banning them from our district."

At noon on April 16, an explanatory notice was posted at the Guanghui Taixiang Building signed by the Taixiang Building Management Office.  The notice said: "Since the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News is unable to accurately reflect the line, direction and policies of the Party, we have received instructions from the superiors to ban the entry of the Morning News into the Taixiang Building."

On the afternoon of April 17, Xinjiang Guanghui finally posted a uniform notice <To the property owners> in all its districts.  The explanation is different from the one at the Taixiang or the other explanations offered by the various district management people.  <To the property owners> said "Recently, we have found large amounts of promotional materials (such as printed materials and compact discs) for evil cults in the distribution boxes of the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News in the various districts.  This situation has drawn high attention from the public security bureau as well as aroused the anger of the owners.  In addition, the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News has instructed its delivery people to destroy more than 1,800 distribution boxes belonging to other newspapers for competitive reasons.  In order to maintain political stability, public safety and the interests of owners, we have consulted the owners and decided to ban the delivery persons of the Morning News from delivering in our districts effective April 15 until as such time when they rectify the problems."

This assertion is doubted by the residents.  Mr. Ho of the Red October District said: "I have subscribed to the Morning News for four years, and I have never found any promotional material for evil cults.  Besides, the newspaper boxes are not locked.  Even if there is promotional material for evil cults, does that mean that they must have been put in there by the delivery persons from the Morning News?"

Resident Mr. Liu said that this assertion is "preposterous.  Why are the evil cults only putting their promotional materials into the newspaper boxes of the Morning News and nowhere else?"

On April 18, the reporter randomly interviewed 50 residents in the Sun Moon Starlight District and the Red October District.  Forty-seven of the residents said that they have never seen or heard of any promotional materials for evil cults.  Two of them said that they have seen such promotional materials in the hallways, but these have been slipped under the door as opposed to being placed in the Morning News boxes.

Only one resident said that he found a compact disc promoting an evil cult last year in a Morning News box, but the disc was not inserted inside the newspapers.  That incident occurred last autumn or water, "and I called the police who came to take the disc away."

So is the city public security finding large amounts of promotional materials for evil cults inside the Morning News boxes?  If this were really true, the first thing that the city public security bureau would do is to ask the Morning News to take corrective action.  As the most concerned party, the Morning News would have been notified by the public security bureau immediately.  But so far, the Morning News has not received any such notice from anybody.

As to the question whether large number of newspaper boxes belonging to other newspapers had been vandalized recently, the interviewed residents have not heard of any such incidents.  "On the morning of April 16, I saw destroyed newspapers boxes, but they belonged to the Morning News."  A Sun Moon Starlight resident said.

These inconsistent explanations cannot reflect the true motive.  A reader noted on the Internet that Xinjiang Guanghui is taking these action in order to prevent Morning News from performing its media watchdog function.

The most recent report in the Morning News on the Xinjiang Guanghui Group was a watchdog article published on April 3.

This report noted that during the development of the Linhuayuan district on South Changchun Road in Urumqi, a high-rise building project ran construction close to the foundation of a private home.  The owner was concerned about any damage to the structure of his building and negotiated with the Xinjiang Guanghui Group many times.  On April 1, a hundred people from the Xinjiang Guanghui Group construction site surrounded this private house and about ten of the men charged into the house and assaulted its residents.

The news report drew national media attention.  QQ, People's Net and other national websites posted this news report, and generated broad social reaction.

Two weeks after this news report appeared, the current incident occurred.  The Morning News contacted the Xinjiang Guanghui Group concerning any connection between these two events, but the relevant persons at the Xinjiang Guanghui Group declined to respond.

It has now been five days since the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Company used brute force to prevent several tens of thousands of readers to exercise their right to read the Morning News.  Each day, thousands of readers go through various channels to lodge complaints against the actions of the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Company.  Some called the newspaper, some showed up in person to inquire at the newspaper and other readers complained directly to the various Xinjiang Guanghui district property management offices and their security guards.  Some readers even gathered in groups in front of the district entrances to ask to get back their right to read.

Concerning this case of a corporation "banning" a newspaper, our reporter has interviewed many lawyers and legalists, who gave their views on the legal aspects of the relationships between the Morning News and its subscribers, the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Company and the subscribers, and the Xinjiang Guanghui Property Company and the Morning News.

When a company prevents the delivery of a newspaper, it is violating the rights of the subscribers and the newspaper.  Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences Legal Studies researcher and well known legal scholar Lian ZHenhua thinks: "There is a legal contract between the subscriber and the newspaper, and no third party can prevent the fulfillment of that contract.  The action by Xinjiang Guanghui is a civil right violation against the Morning News and its subscribers."

"If a huge amount of promotional materials for evil cults had really been found in the Morning News distribution boxes, the property management office should immediately report to the police as opposed to banning the Morning News from the district and destroying their distribution boxes."  Xinjiang Shicheng Lawyers' Office director Dong Yonghe said that without furnishing any proof, Xinjiang Guanghui stopped Morning News from entering the district and posted public notices, then they are violation the rights of the subscribers as well as damaging the reputation of the Morning News

He said that the distribution boxes were a gift from the newspaper to the subscribers.  As such, the law states that the distribution boxes are owned by the subscribers.  Although the distribution boxes are located in public space, the ownership rights do not change.  Any organization or persons who destroy the distribution boxes without the permission of the owners are violating their rights.  In this sense, the owners can sue in court to defend their own rights.

Xinjiang Capitalist Lawyers Office lawyer Chen Xinhong believes that if this is true, it would be unfair to the subscribers of Morning News.  The Morning News produces a printed newspaper and the subscribers are the consumers.  There is a contractual relationship between the two sides which are protected under the law.  As the property manager, Xinjiang Guanghui does not have the right to demand the subscribers to cancel their Morning News subscriptions and read other newspapers instead.  Based upon Chinese national law and civil regulations, the consumers has the freedom to choose which publications to read, and the property management company and the district real estate developer have no right to interfere.

In addition, without providing any factual evidence first, Xinjiang Guanghui posted notice to claim that "the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News has been ordered to reform itself on account of the large amounts of promotion materials for evil cults found in their delivery boxes."  This action is a public smear against the Morning News and its delivery process, which creates a bad impression among the consumers and causes economic losses for the newspapers.  Therefore, the Morning News can hold Xinjiang Guanghui legally responsible through the legal process.

He said that the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News and the Xinjiang Guanghui Company are two different bodies which do not exercise control over each other.  Xinjiang Guanghui is a business entity which has no law enforcement authority.  As such, it has no right to ask the Morning News to "rectify its problems."  At the same time, if there had indeed been large amounts of promotional materials for evil cults, the property management company Xinjiang Guanghui is first and foremost responsible for the entry of these illegal promotional materials into its districts.  Secondly, they should have reported the matter to the police immediately, as opposed to posting notices to ask the Morning News to reform itself.

Tianjin Normal University School of Journalism and Communication Doctor of Philosophy interprets this affair as the negative reaction of when watchdog journalism works.  "You displeased me and I will express my displeasure within my domain of influence in order to retaliate against your monitoring of me.  But this form of retaliation is illegal.  Faced with media watchdog journalism, there should be a more tolerant attitude.  It is wrong to demand that the media reports contain no flaws or to oppose watchdog journalism."

"The incident in which Xinjiang Guanghui blocked the normal delivery of the Xinjiang Metropolis Consumer Morning News can be said to be a classical example about the imperfection of the market economy during the present stage of social development."  Xinjiang Autonomous Region Party School professor Xhen Junli believes: "The order of the market economy is imperfect.  Corporations can reap huge profits without the appropriate restraints which come from the system, law and morality.  These restraints are presently lagging behind.  So when a problem arises, the solution is not a proper contest between the two sides.  Instead, it is usually dealt with outside of the legal framework and the market order."