October 23, 2013 Bloomberg News
Chinese police detained a reporter who wrote stories questioning the finances of Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co. Police in the southern city of Changsha, where Zoomlion is based, said on the department’s microblog that a Xinkuaibao reporter surnamed Chen was detained after accusations he damaged the commercial reputation of a company that wasn’t identified. One of the 15 stories Chen wrote about Zoomlion, published on May 27, accused the company of improperly accounting for sales, forcing Zoomlion to halt trading of its shares in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The company has denied it falsified sales. Zoomlion had filed a complaint against Chen with local police last week, said a media official for the construction-equipment maker who asked not to be identified because of the company’s rules. The company’s stock closed at HK$6.82 in Hong Kong. The Shenzhen-traded shares fell 2.9 percent to 5.61 yuan. Zoomlion was also forced to halt its shares in January after Ming Pao Daily published a story questioning its sales. The Hong Kong-based newspaper said it received an unsigned letter with the accusations, which Zoomlion denied and called “false, groundless and misleading.” Zoomlion posted a 48 percent drop in profit to 2.92 billion yuan ($480 million) in the six months ended June as China’s slowing economic growth damped demand at the nation’s second-largest construction equipment maker.
October 22, 2013 New York Times Sinosphere blog
Mr. Chen was formally detained on Saturday under “suspicion of damaging commercial reputation,” said the police in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province and home to Zoomlion’s headquarters. The New Express, a scrappy tabloid, had run a series of articles questioning Zoomlion’s revenue and profit figures.
Zoomlion, which is partly owned by the Hunan government, has denied allegations that it faked its results. Trading of the company’s shares in Shenzhen and Hong Kong was temporarily suspended in May after The New Express accused Zoomlion of doctoring sales numbers.
The Changsha police say Mr. Chen fabricated allegations that the company improperly privatized state assets; spent 513 million renminbi, or $84.3 million, on “abnormal marketing”; and falsified sales and financial information, according to a report by Xinhua, the state-run news service.
The New Express said on Wednesday that it had reviewed 15 articles Mr. Chen had written about the company and found only one small error. “We always thought you only need to report responsibly and you won’t have any problems,” the newspaper said. “The facts confirm that we were too naïve.” The newspaper said Mr. Chen was summoned to a Guangzhou police station and was taken into custody by police officers visiting from Changsha, 700 kilometers (437 miles) to the north. Mr. Chen was put in a Mercedes-Benz and driven away, The New Express reported, quoting his wife.
Li Chengpeng, a popular blogger, wrote that the authorities never arrested people when official media like China Central Television, the national broadcaster, made mistakes. “Now one newspaper wants to speak some truth, but any mistake leads to an arrest,” he wrote on his Sina Weibo microblog. “The bottom line is you create a world of one voice, one right answer and one press release. Why don’t you just have one single paper with a readership of two people then?”
Pan Shiyi, a real estate tycoon, wrote on Sina Weibo, where he has more than 16 million followers: “For many years now, when some Chinese business reporters write stories about us, they don’t read our financial reports or statements but make up their own stories. Still, reporters shouldn’t be detained willy-nilly. Has any good company ever been brought down by a news story?”
Some commentators questioned whether the Changsha authorities were acting at the behest of a powerful firm connected to the local government. “The police are there to uphold the law, not to protect the backyard of a few special companies and people,” Yu Jianrong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote on his Sina Weibo account.
Even Hu Xijin, the editor of the Communist Party-run Global Times, who has clashed with more liberal elements in the Chinese media before, recommended that the national journalists association get involved to protect the rights of the reporter.
Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, said she could not recall any other time a Chinese newspaper came out so forthrightly to demand the release of one of its reporters. “The fact that they published it is quite astonishing,” she said. “There have been other newspapers that have spoken out on behalf of their journalists, but I’ve never seen a front page like that,” she said. “I imagine that the propaganda department will be calling them and admonishing them for doing so.” A New Express employee reached by telephone late Wednesday night declined to comment on any government response.
October 23, 2013 China Media Project
In a rare case of open resistance by Chinese media against intimidation by the authorities, Guangzhou’s New Express newspaper today published an editorial on its front page appealing directly to its readers following the cross-regional detention of one of its reporters by police from Changsha, the capital of neighboring Hunan province.
Under the bold headline, “Release Him,” the editorial occupies the full front page of today’s New Express. The finer bolded text directly above the headline reads: “Dear Readers, our reporter Chen Yongzhou (陈永洲) reported on financial problems at Zoomlion and was taken into custody by the Changsha police outside their jurisdiction, accused of damaging business prestige. Over this matter, we must speak out.”
Chen was reportedly taken into custody in Guangzhou more than a week ago by four policeman from Changsha — clearly operating far beyond their jurisdiction — who charged that Chen had “damaged the business reputation” of Zoomlion with his reports. The New Express initially kept quiet about the detention, hoping the matter could be resolved reasonably behind closed doors. Today’s front page editorial, with its acerbic and mocking tone, was apparently a measure taken by the newspaper as a last resort.
October 24, 2013 China Media Project
Guangzhou’s New Express, which made international headlines yesterday with a brassy front-page editorial calling for the release of one of its reporters from Changsha police custody, has repeated the call on its front page today.
In a bold headline in blue brackets toward the bottom of today’s front page, the New Express says of reporter Chen Yongzhou: AGAIN WE ASK FOR HIS RELEASE. A smaller headline reads: “Everything must be resolved within the framework of the law. You cannot detain first and [rationalize] charges later.”
October 25, 2013 The Standard
The central publishing regulator, in a rare acknowledgement of the rights of journalists, expressed concern yesterday about a detained reporter, a case that has stirred outrage after a newspaper pleaded with police on its front page to let him go.
Chen Yongzhou of New Express was detained after writing stories criticizing the finances of state-owned construction gear maker Zoomlion Heavy Industry, a move that coincides with new curbs on journalists.
"The General Association of Press and Publishing resolutely supports the news media conducting normal interviewing and reporting activities and resolutely protects journalists' normal and legal rights to interview," the China Press and Publishing Journal, which is overseen by the association itself, said, citing an association official.
October 25, 2013 Caixin
The arrest of a journalist for allegedly damaging the reputation of an equipment manufacturer has spurred debate in both the media and legal circles. The discussions revolve around the rights of the press, interpretation of the law and possible abuse of power by the police.
The Criminal Law indeed includes a clause on "fabricating stories and spreading them to damage another person's business reputation." The clause became law in 1997 and is punishable by up to two years in prison and fines.
There are two requirements for finding someone guilty. The first is the clear intention of the suspect. The second is it that the person's behavior involves fabricating information, spreading it and causing severe consequences. In other words, if the journalist did not fabricate any information, the charge of damaging a business's reputation cannot stand. M0reover, the police have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this was the journalist's intention. Even if the journalist cannot prove the validity of the information he published, if one can conclude that he had enough reason to believe the information was true, he cannot be held liable.
The police in Changsha, in the central province of Hunan, who arrested Chen Yongzhou, the journalist for the New Express newspaper in Guangzhou, say Chen's reporting was based on subjective judgment. The people who do not subscribe to the police point of view argue that most of Chen's articles cited facts from the public financial reports of Hunan-based Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd. They say that at worst Chen may have allowed his opinions into his work, but that is not a crime.
Xu Xun, director of the Communication Law Research Center at China University of Political Science and Law and an expert on libel, said that in recent years there have only been a few cases of journalists being held responsible on the charge of damaging a business's reputation. Of these, one person was sentenced to a year in prison and the rest were fined. The jailed journalist worked at Beijing TV and had made up a story that stuffing in steamed dumplings in restaurants in the capital were made of wastepaper.
In these cases, Xu said, the reporters had made up key parts of their stories, but this is not the case in Chen's articles. The New Express indeed admitted one minor flaw in his 15 reports on Zoomlion. The newspaper said on October 22 that one of his stories said Zoomlion spent 513 million yuan on advertising when it was actually spent on ads and entertainment. "If that is true, this can't be seen as fabricating information, and criminal procedures should not be used," Xu said. "The matter should be settled through a civil case."
Another key issue is whether the police had the right to arrest Chen. A regulation on criminal law enforcement procedures says that when necessary, the police can start a preliminary investigation, during which they can take measures such as question people and collect evidence. This can be done, the regulation says, as long as police do not restrict the freedom of a person or the person's property rights.
Based on what the New Express has said, Chen was arrested by police from a nearby province without any warning or questioning. They simply determined the journalist was suspected of committing a crime and decided to restrict his personal freedom.
Xu said if there were problems with a news story, the victim should first report the problem to the media outlet that published the report or the journalists' association. They could also file a libel case in court. "Using the police to pursue a criminal case and arresting the journalist should be the last step," Xu said.
Wang Yong, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said that in the financial sector, when press freedom and a business's reputation had to be balanced, more leeway should be given to the press. This was because open information related to listed companies was extremely important to investors, Wang said. Even if some reports are inappropriate, open and transparent disclosure, coupled with investors' own judgment, would mitigate negative impacts of false information.
October 25, 2013 South China Morning Post
Two days ago, the front-page of the New Express, the newspaper Chen writes for, carried the first of two editorials questioning a police decision in Hunan province to pursue criminal charges against him for his reports on Zoomlion. The company is a major manufacturer in the provincial capital Changsha.
Zoomlion, which is listed in both Shenzhen and Hong Kong, saw its stock price tumble as other newspapers joined the New Express in a campaign for Chen’s release.
In Hong Kong, the company’s share price tumbled more than 9 per cent in two days, losing about HK$930 million in market capitalisation. In Shenzhen, the loss amounted to around HK$2.5 billion. The company lost HK$3.46 billion, including unlisted shares, in market capitalisation over the two days, until the campaign was halted by order of the Propaganda Department.
Chen has written a series of articles on Zoomlion over the last 18 months. One, which he wrote in May, suggested the company falsified sales figures. It led to a drop of 5.4 per cent in the share price – pulling it to its lowest level in two years.
Yet, on average, his reports failed to harm the company’s reputation among investors. Zoomlion’s share price actually rose nine times out of twelve on the Hong Kong exchange on days he published an article about the company.
On Thursday evening, the publishers of the New Express issued a statement calling for Chen’s release.
Police have said they are detaining Chen following a complaint by Zoomlion and have started a formal investigation.
Colleagues said Chen’s lawyer was allowed to meet him on Friday.
For Bob Dietz, Asia programme co-ordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists, the New Express campaign actually served the interests of the press, if anyone.
“This appeal shows the strength of the more mainstream Chinese media, which is often overlooked in the crackdown on digital platforms like blog sites and social media,” he said. “Newspapers in particular have strong social support – reports on corruption make for compelling reading.”
“The paper [was] wise to go broadly public like this,” he commented. “Chen’s arrest has become more than just one more story of a Chinese journalist in detention.”
October 26, 2013 South China Morning Post
What happened to Chen Yongzhou is disturbing. The New Express reporter wrote a 15-part investigative series that detailed alleged fraud committed by construction equipment giant Zoomlion. The allegations were rejected by the company. Chen was later detained by Changsha police and accused of fabricating facts and damaging the company's commercial reputation. Pressure intensified after the tabloid ran a front-page appeal twice urging Chen's release. The call was backed by several mainland newspapers.
The detention comes at a time when the state is seen to be taking a hard-line approach to online dissent. Concerns have been raised whether the municipal authorities are riding on the campaign to impose an even tighter grip on the media. Chen was just doing legitimate news reporting. If the articles are found to be inaccurate, the company can seek redress in other ways and, if necessary, sue the newspaper through a civil proceeding. Detaining a journalist seeking to expose the truth has sent the wrong message about Beijing's anti-graft commitment and respect for the rule of law.
October 26, 2013 CNTV
A Chinese reporter who’s been held by police for the last week has confessed to writing "unverified and untrue stories" about a company, in order to gain money and fame. Chen Yongzhou has now apologized for his actions and warned his peers to "learn a lesson" from himself.
Chen Yongzhou, a journalist with the New Express in Guangzhou, confessed that he’d continuously released a series of unverified and false reports against engineering company Zoomlion, at the request of others. Chen said that only "one and a half" of his more than 10 reports were done after gathering information himself, while the rest were made based on provided articles. "I did not check the content of these articles and only made minor changes. The original drafts were provided by other people." Chen Yongzhou said. The fabrications, including loss of state assets, ugly marketing, sales and financial fraud, were widely forwarded over the Internet, causing severe social impact.
One of the articles under Chen’s name around mid-May 2003 on Zoomlion’s advertising fee, claimed the annual amount reached 513 million yuan and involved irregular marketing practices. Zoomlion later issued a clarification statement, citing audit reports to say the highlighted amount also included the company’s travel expenses and marketing fee in 2012, while the advertising fee only accounted for 20 percent of the total. But the report led to trading in Zoomlion shares in Shenzhen to be suspended for two days.
"I knew they made a deliberate misinterpretation out of context after I saw the topic. But I didn’t expect such severe consequences. Then I became afraid of getting into trouble." Chen Yongzhou said. Chen also said what he had done met the middleman’s expectation and he received "rewards" ranging from thousands of yuan to tens of thousands of yuan from September 29th, 2012 to August 8th, 2013. "I’m willing to confess. I would like to apologize to the Zoomlion, the company’s stock investors and my own family members. I also struggled. On the one hand is the professional ethics, on the other hand is benifits. It’s very hard to get both of them, and I’m very regretable." Chen Yongzhou said.
Chen was detained on October 18th, under suspicion of damaging business reputation. His detention, and his newspaper’s campaign for his release, has made international news.
October 27, 2013 New Express
According to the preliminary investigation by the police, our reporter Chen Yongzhou was directed by others to make numerous false reports in return for monetary payoffs. As such, this is seriously in violation of the <Chinese Journalists' professional ethical standards> and the requirement for accuracy in journalism. After the the case broke open, our newspaper acted inappropriately and thus seriously damaged public trust in the media. This has been a profound less for us, and we will be seriously examining our existing problems and improving our supervision over our editors and reporters and the publication process. We will rigorously demand that our editors and reporters respect the facts, obey the laws and adhere to the professional ethics and activity requirements of journalists.
We offer our profound apologies to the various sectors of our society.
October 27, 2013 BBC
A Chinese newspaper, which made front-page appeals for the release of one its journalists, has issued an apology. The Guangdong-based New Express said a preliminary police investigation found that Chen Yongzhou had accepted money to publish numerous false reports. He was arrested over claims he defamed a partly state-owned firm in articles exposing alleged corruption. The paper's front-page apology came after the journalist confessed to wrongdoing on state TV. "I'm willing to admit my guilt and to show repentance," Mr Chen said in a statement broadcast on Saturday.
The New Express had previously backed him with unusually bold front-page appeals for his release. But in a statement on Sunday's front page, it said it had failed to properly check his reports. "This newspaper was not strict enough about thoroughly fact-checking the draft of the report," it said. "After the incident occurred the newspaper took inappropriate measures, seriously harming the public trust of the media." It promised to better ensure that its reporters and editors "comply with professional journalistic ethics and regulations".
Experts say confessions are still routinely coerced, despite a change in the law earlier this year banning the authorities from forcing anyone to incriminate themselves.
Mr Chen wrote several articles for the New Express alleging financial irregularities at a construction-equipment company called Zoomlion. The company denies the allegations. "In this case I've caused damages to Zoomlion and also the whole news media industry and its ability to earn the public's trust," he told state broadcaster CCTV. "I did this mainly because I hankered after money and fame. I've been used. I've realised my wrongdoing."
October 27, 2013 m4
After the Changsha police announced on October 22 that they have arrested reporter Chen Yongzhou on October 19 on suspicion of damaging commercial reputation, the New Express responded strongly. On October 23 and 24, the newspaper used the front page to ask the Changsha police to release Chen. Just when everybody is arguing, the CCTV morning news program showed Chen Yongzhou facing the camera and admitting to having committed crimes. He said that in order to display his prowess in order to gain fame and fortune, he accepted the directions of other persons and published numerous negative reports on the Zoomlion company. The reports were not verified by Chen; in fact, he had not even read some of them. Nevertheless the reports went out under his byline. As a result, the Zoomlion reputation suffered and many investors lost money on the stock market. Chen expressed his regrets and apologized to Zoomlion, investors and his own family. He asked his peers to use his case as a cautionary tale.
During the escalation of the public debate, the various southern media led by New Express joined forces with the public intellectuals and celebrity microbloggers to manipulate public opinion and apply pressure on the Changsha police without regard for the rule of law. As a traditional newspaper which ought to be rigorous, fact-biding and authoritative, New Express used two front pages to inflame passions. Under the claim of freedom of press, they demanded the unconditional release of Chen Yongzhou at a time when the Changsha police was in the middle of obtaining evidence after a legally valid detention. The public intellectuals asked people to unload Zoomlion shares and hold the police responsible. Numerous false rumors was spread, including "the vehicles used by the Changsha police to make the arrest in Guangzhou were provided by Zoomlion" etc.
Zoomlion kept a relatively low profile, but it sustained damage in the public debate. During the two days (October 23 an 24), the stock price of Zoomlion fell 6.75% which amounted to more than 3 billion in market capitalization. When New Express published the dozen or so inaccurate negative reports on Zoomlion between September last year to May this year, the Zoomlion A shares had to be suspended from trading for two days. They came under suspicion and condemnation by the regulatory authority, shareholders and investors. According to Zoomlion, the company's A and H shares lost a total of 1.369 RMB in market capitalization. Zoomlion shareholders bore the brunt of the losses. Incredibly, Chen Yongzhou only gathered information on one and a half of the negative reports, and he didn't even read some of the others himself. Chen Yongzhou now said that he earned 500,000 RMB for his efforts.
Zoomlion is a Human-based company with a certain military-industrial background. It is a state company with the rare innovative capabilities in mechanical engineering. It has managed to develop many technological breakthroughs that broke international monopolies. It is highly competitive across the world in construction. According to the microblogger Ranxiang, a number of American hedge funds began selling Zoomlion shares short during the first half year of this year. When New Experss issued those negative reporters on Zoomlion, they appear to support the short sales. This writer does not know the true motives of New Express nor any connection with overseas hedge funds. But on the CCTV morning news program, the screen capture showed that the names of New Experss editor-in-chief Wang Zhong and <21st Century Business Herald> reporter Zhu Zongwhen were listed in the case file. Chen Yongzhou had also confessed that he acted on behest of other persons who were responsible for writing the actual reports. When a newspaper permits a reporter to write a dozen or so negative reports within the last year, and then used its front page to issue a "big-character wallposter" to demand the release of a reporter under investigation, and when that newspaper used as its leverage the destruction a state company and the economic interests of the shareholders, then what is the responsibility of the New Express group and its leaders? Shouldn't New Express make an account of itself to the relevant supervisory organ?
At this time, the public intellectuals and celebrity microbloggers have withdrawn from the battle lines. We should begin to think about the performance of the media. Through their vast resources, the media inflamed passions and caused huge economic losses for the relevant companies and their shareholders. These losses are inestimable. Worse yet, if the media began tools for certain forces and then the public intellectuals and celebrity microbloggers join in to pour oil on flames, it is the overall economy and society of China that will be damaged.
It is time for the government to exert control. When the media go out of control in China, the damage will be on Chinese companies, economy and society as well as public trust in the media. Only the foreign capital will win. There will be no winners among us!
October 27, 2013 Wu Fatian's blog
On the morning of October 27, we finally saw the apology from New Express. This newspaper gave less than 10% of its page to the apology, right in the far corner of a large photograph of the soccer game between Hengda and Seoul. So they devoted almost one page to demand: "Please release him" but now they issued a paltry apology right behind the backside of a soccer player. No wonder one netizen commented that the apology was more like a fart.
... Certain public intellectuals and celebrity microbloggers were standing up for New Express. Their position demand that they persist. They said: Tonight we are all Chen Yongzhou and we are fighting for ourselves when we plead his case ... But once the lie about Chen's innocence was exposed, they will naturally proceed to argue for procedural justice. A certain public intellectual promptly posted a screen capture of the CCTV interview with Chen Yongzhou in which his neck showed a red, swollen band. Suddenly everybody was crying "Torture!" But when someone else went back to the video and examined it carefully, there was no such sign to be found! So some public intellectual or the other had added the redness, which was enough to cause microblogging lawyer Yuan to gleefully forward the photograph. But when the artificial addition was exposed, lawyer Yuan quickly deleted his post and said nothing more ...
... Some people suggest that the CCTV news report of Chen's confession violated the presumption of innocence before trial. This is a total misunderstanding. Chen was referred to as a suspect. The broadcast of his confession does not mean that he has been found guilty. Until the court renders a verdict, the person is still merely a suspect and a defendant. CCTV's broadcast merely provided evidence for public debate. The microblogosphere contains many voices, such that no media outlet can dominate. Before the CCTV broadcast was aired, the public intellectuals demanded the evidence of wrongdoing to be produced. Therefore, Chen's confession satisfied the public's right to know. After all, we want to see justice rendered in a way that people can see and hear. The revelation of the evidence is more open and transparent than having the investigation being sealed for the sake of confidentiality.
... Some people questioned whether the Changsha police was acted as the personal vassal of a certain company when they made the arrest in Guangzhou. So let me examine the case objectively. First of all, the case should be handled by the public security authorities at the place in which the crime was made, and that covers the place in which the crime was committed, the place in which the crime had its consequences as well as the place in which the payoffs was made. In this case, the crime was committed by the suspect in Guangzhou and the damage was caused for a company based in Changsha. Therefore both the Guangzhou and Changsha police have jurisdiction rights. In this case, the victim filed a complaint to the Changsha police, which is acted lawfully to set up the case.
Secondly, there is the matter of the Changsha police crossing provincial borders to make an arrest in Guangzhou. There is no ban against the police making arrests across borders. If someone commits a crime in Tianjin and flees to Langfang, can he be arrested? Of course, he can be. The law states that when the police makes an arrest outside of its jurisdiction, the local police should cooperate. The Changsha police arrested Chen Yongzhou with the assistance of the Guangzhou police ...
Thirdly, the matter of the Changsha police serving as the personal vassals of Zoomlion is a completely subjective judgment. When any company files a complaint that involves criminal activities, the police must set up a case to investigate. If New Express were to file a libel case against a Zoomlion executive and the Guangzhou police sets up a case, then would you say that the Guangzhou police are serving as the personal vassals of New Express? Of course not.
Fourthly, it is asserted that the entire case rests upon a confession which is insufficient proof in court. But given the way that the defendant described his crimes so fluently on camera, it is certain that there must be sufficient documentary and material evidence that made him spill everything. So be patient and you will see the evidence when the court trial takes place.
On October 23, New Express said: "If the police uncle found evidence that we have not been able to uncover so far, please let us know and we will take off our hats to salute." The apology on October 27 was directed towards the readers, but not he police. They did not say that they were taking their hats off to salute the police. In English, there are three terms (in increasing degree): "apology", "sorry" and "regret." The New Express statement merely reflects a certain regret.
When New Express said that "they were sloppy in checking the reports," they mean to say that they are abandoning Chen Yongzhou. This 27-year-old reporter used to be their pawn, but now he has been sacrificed. If New Express had used the following front page, I would have been impressed by their courage.
(translation) I was fucking stupid! I never imagined that I would lose my virtues!
October 28, 2013 Sydney Morning Herald
CCTV's broadcast of Mr Chen's alleged confession and the newspaper's apology "makes a complete mockery of this 'China is a country under rule of law' nonsense that we get fed," said Jeremy Goldkorn, 42, founding director of Danwei.com, a Beijing- based firm that researches China's media and Internet. "I don't know the specifics of this case, but you don't get a confession on CCTV unless there is some political element to it."
The newspaper may have been pressured to apologise, Mr Goldkorn said. "If you look at the front page, it's in a tiny corner, it doesn't look like a very sincere apology."
In its statement, Xinkuaibao said the police's initial investigation showed Mr Chen published "a lot of incorrect reports and took money." The newspaper failed to carefully review his articles before publishing them, it said.
It sent a "deep apology to all in society," and pledged to "earnestly correct the existing problem" and "demand our editorial staff respect facts and abide by the law and professional ethics."
Xinkuaibao, translated as New Express, is part of the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News Group, according to the websites of both publications.
October 28, 2013 South China Morning Post
A journalist with New Express said on condition of anonymity that the paper was forced to print the apology. "It was an order from above. It's a day of disgrace for New Express." Last week the paper ran two front-page appeals calling for Chen's release.
Another reporter said: "The paper had good and pure intentions to start with, which was to project its own reporters and their journalistic rights. But regrettably, we can't possibly beat more potent government power. Chen was just cannon fodder."
Chen wrote 15 articles accusing engineering giant Zoomlion of "financial problems", including inflating its profits. Zoomlion is about 20 per cent state-owned and is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges.
Its shares fell in Hong Kong trading last week. The stock rebounded 1.8 per cent on October 25 after plunging more than 9 per cent over the previous two days.
October 28, 2013 FT blog: The World with Gideon Rachman
The apologya (made by New Express) could undermine public faith in a more investigative crop of newspapers, many of them, like New Express, located in the relatively more liberal province of Guangdong. It will also focus attention on a grubby fact of Chinese journalism – that bribes are regularly paid to suppress stories or to encourage critical coverage of personal or commercial rivals. Authorities may also use the incident to pour scorn on foreign journalists who, they will say, are too eager to believe muckraking stories, and too quick to assume that all arrests are politically motivated.
Yet the real lesson of Mr Chen’s case is not that newspapers sometimes get stories wrong – if that indeed turns out to be the case – nor even that they are sometimes as corrupt as the targets of their investigations. In aggregate, the new breed of Chinese media has done the public a service in shining a light into the darker crevices of society.
Above all, the incident highlights the weakness of China’s institutions. Parading someone on TV is no substitute for due legal process. Nor is the fact that the Changsha police appear to have overstepped their authority in dashing to Guangdong to arrest Mr Chen, making a criminal case out of what many lawyers consider a civil matter. Zoomlion, the company Mr Chen had accused of inflating its profits, is based in Changsha, where it is partly owned by the Hunan provincial government. That begs the question of precisely who the police thought they were protecting and on whose authority they were acting.
The most likely conclusion the Chinese public will draw is that nothing can be believed and no one can be trusted. A plague on all their houses! That is hardly unique to China. Even more open and democratic societies are facing a crisis of public faith in institutions. But in China, that lack of trust – whether in the media or in the results of listed companies, whether in the courts or in the safety of food – has reached epidemic proportions.
November 1, 2013 South China Morning Post
Guangdong's press regulator said the management of the New Express tabloid should be reshuffled after a series of "incorrect" reports that alleged financial problems at heavy equipment manufacturer Zoomlion. The statement by the Guangdong Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television concluded an official investigation into the case that saw the reporter behind the articles, Chen Yongzhou , held by police in Changsha , Hunan , where Zoomlion is based.
"Preliminary investigation shows New Express under the Yangcheng Evening News Group published numerous incorrect reports about Zoomlion from September 2012 to August 2013. The editorial management of New Express was chaotic," it said. It ordered Yangcheng Evening News to revoke Chen's journalist accreditation and overhaul New Express. The reshuffle of the management should start immediately, the statement said.
The instruction was aired during national prime time evening news, six days after Chen confessed on national TV that he received money to write the series. The video showed Chen - handcuffed, wearing a green prison jumpsuit and his head shaved - admitting to accepting hundreds of thousands of yuan from an unidentified middleman. The man supplied him with articles to publish under Chen's byline. Chen was arrested on a charge of damaging the reputation of Zoomlion, state media reported on Wednesday.
A reporter with New Express said "provincial propaganda department officials had already paid a visit to the newspaper and spoke with editors who have handled the problematic articles" prior to the announcement by the Guangdong press regulator. Another reporter with the tabloid felt sorry to see their chief editor leave because "he is a professionally capable editor". "If he's really going to be replaced, it's a great loss to the paper's future development," the reporter said.
Current New Express editor-in-chief Li Yihang could not be reached for comment. Reporters said he worked his way up from being a frontline reporter.
November 5, 2013 South China Morning Post
Journalists across China have thrown themselves into a heated debate about corruption in the media industry after the arrest of Chen Yongzhou, the Guangzhou-based New Express reporter who admitted to accepting bribes and publishing articles containing false accusations.
Hu Shuli, the outspoken editor-in-chief of Caixin Media and a well-respected veteran journalist, often called “the most dangerous woman in China”, waded into the debate this week with a scathing editorial, dividing opinions further. By blasting the prevalent “rent-seeking” practices among China’s journalists in an editorial for Caixin Weekly published on Monday, Hu urged media professionals to uphold journalistic integrity and steer clear of future scandals. "To see journalistic privileges such as reporting the facts and the media's watchdog power being traded for money, as exposed by the Chen Yongzhou incident, it makes one extremely sad," Hu wrote. "This scandal is a self-inflicted wound on the media industry."
Hu's take-no-prisoners approach has apparently angered some of her media industry colleagues. They have since published various commentary articles and blogs in retort, blaming her for missing the "bigger picture" of the industry’s struggle with increasing censorship, especially in a time when newspapers, amid an onslaught from new media, have seen a dive in profits following a national economic slowdown. Some went further, accusing Hu of currying favour with the Communist Party and siding with the "evil forces" of government censors in their effort to silence journalists.
Chen Yongzhou was taken away by policemen from Changsha, Hunan, on October 18, and accused of “fabricating facts” and “damaging the commercial reputation” of Changsha-based Zoomlion, one of China’s largest makers of construction equipment. He made a public confession in a CCTV programme a week later, admitting to taking bribes. China’s reporters rallied for Chen’s release after his detention, criticising the police force for abusing its power.
In her editorial, 60-year-old Hu voiced concerns about "questionable police behaviour" and the role of Zoomlion in Chen’s arrest, but devoted most of the piece to attacking the rampant corruption in the industry as revealed by Chen’s confession. Warning that the scandal cost Chinese media much of its hard-earned credibility, Hu urged journalists to practice self-discipline and report only “independently and truthfully”. “Rent-seeking is not attributable to a misbehaving individual,” Hu wrote, “It is a stubborn illness affecting a considerable number of news organisations and reporters.”
Among those who disagree with Hu, Zhou Haiyan, a journalism professor at Nanjing University, said that “rent-seeking” itself was only a by-product of a system that created opportunities for such behaviour. Analysing the arrests of outspoken opinion leaders Xue Manzi and Wang Gongquan, which preceded Chen’s arrest, Zhou condemned the Chinese government's campaign to smear and discredit its critics, saying it jeopardises freedom of speech and impairs judicial independence.
Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said while he understood Hu’s concerns, it was not practical to rely just on “morality” to wipe out corruption in the industry. Zhan also argued that when being barred from “seeking rent”, media should also be granted the legal power to monitor and criticise the government. “Rights and obligations come together,” Zhan wrote. In a phone conversation with SCMP.com on Tuesday, Zhan said eventually it will take the rule-of-law to cure Chinese media of corruption. He also said he agreed with Hu because corruption has become prevalent in media organisations in the country and need to be addressed. "We should know that reporters are not forced into accepting bribes, they do have a choice," he said.
The controversy triggered by Hu’s piece took her by surprise, Hu admitted on her Weibo on Tuesday. Yet she reiterated her views in the comment section of her article on Caixin’s website. “It’s true that only a trial should decide whether or not Chen is guilty, “ Hu wrote, “But the fact that he accepted bribes has been exposed, and we have to get to the bottom of it.”
On September 12, a Chinese microblogger wrote that among his
university fellow students, there were 8 cancer patients among the more than
30 who remained in Beijing after graduation whereas none of the more than 20
who went to work overseas suffered from cancer. This microblog post drew
plenty of comments.
Some people think that cancer rates must be higher in China than elsewhere in developed countries, due to reasons such as human genetics, socio-cultural factors, eating habits, genetically modified food, food additives, lax supervision of food safety, industrialization, environmental pollution, etc. Therefore this anecdotal observation fitted their predilections.
However, the uncorroborated numbers from one Chinese microblogger is not a scientific study. You cannot generalize this one case to the general situation in China. Besides there may be other explanations for what happened here.
[Side note: In the 1970's, I attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook and I lived a number of years in two G Quad residence halls (Irving/O'Neill). In the 1980's, a former student contacted the university and gave information about several students who had developed or died of cancer. These students were all in their 20's and it seemed abnormal for them to develop the same type of rare cancer at that age. young. All these students lived in the two residence halls between 1981 and 1988. The university conducted an exhaustive review. First they compared the 13,114 students who had lived there since 1981 to the New York State Cancer registry and found 43 cancer cases, which was not considered to be abnormal. The university also evaluated the air, water, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, radiation and other systems. They did not find any potentially hazardous material exceeding safety limits set forth in local, state and federal guidelines or requirements. So the case was closed. (see Report Finds No Cancer Link to G Quad Building)]
A more authoritative source on China might be the World Cancer Research Fund. Among the countries with the 50 highest rates (per 100,000) for all cancers, we see:
#1. Denmark 326.1
#2. Ireland 317.0
#3. Australia 314.1
#4. New Zealand 309.2
#5. Belgium 306.8
#6. France (urban) 300.4
#7. United States of America 300.2
#8. Norway 299.1
#9. Canada 296.6
#10. Czech Republic 295.0
#29. Chinese Taipei 244.1
#50. South Africa 202.0
China is not even in the top 50. According to http://globocan.iarc.fr， China's rate is 181.0 per 100,000. So what about all those scare stories about unsafe food in China? the PM 2.5 data collected by the American embassy? Are they just hyperbole?
The problem is that there are other factors that could distort direct comparisons.
First of all, the World Cancer Research Fund states that the cancer rates are different for "more developed" versus "less developed" countries. If the overall cancer rate is 181.6 for the world, then the rate for more developed countries is 255.8 and that for less developed countries is only 147.8. At this stage of development, China still cannot be characterized as "more developed."
Secondly, a major difference between "more developed" and "less developed" countries is life expectancy. People live longer in "more developed" countries. According to Cancer Research UK, the worldwide life expectancy is 68 years, but 77 in "more developed" countries versus 66 in "less developed". And cancer incidence is vastly higher among old people than in young people. Simply put, the more elderly people there are in the population, the higher the cancer rate, and vice versa.
These same points were made by the Peking University Business Commentary chief editor Bao Dike. These drew comments such as:
- Lifestyle and environment accounts of only 50% of the variation. As age goes up, the cancer rate rises quickly. Another reason is that new and improved medical practices allow more cancers to be detected earlier, which seemingly result in higher cancer rates.
- Western lifestyle is more conducive to cancer growth.
- Old age is only one factor. Other factors such as excessive smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, western diets (with low intakes of fruits and vegetables), exposure to sun, obesity and environment are also important.
- Although cancer rates are not yet high in China, we should be wary that the environmental problems will show up eventually.
- These statistics are unscientific because how can China not be up there? In China, the air is polluted, the water is contaminated, they serve gutter oil, they eat genetically modified food, they eat high-sodium high-sugar food, they use food additives, etc. China should be among the top ten! Yes, didn't an expert in Beijing said several days ago that eight of his fellow students who stayed in China developed cancer at a 25% rate, whereas none of those who went overseas did?
- Is this related to genetically modified food? With the constitutional monarchy? With the legal system? Or with PM 2.5?
Bao Dike also made some explanations to question:
- You said that the statistics for the west are more accurate because poor people in China cannot afford to see the doctor. In China, some people cannot afford medical treatment (such as surgery or chemotherapy) but very few people are so poor as not able to visit doctors when ill. That is to say, the cause of death is known most of the time.
- The cancer rate for China is about 250 per 100,000 overall, and about 270 per 100,000 for the urban areas only. This is about #15 in the world. The cancer rate for the rural areas is about 240 per 100,000.
- There is nothing wrong with the statistics. More developed countries have higher life expectancies and therefore higher cancer rates. In China, the more developed regions have higher cancer rates. Thus, Shanghai has the highest life expectancy and also the highest cancer rate.
 Old Wedding Photos (2013/09/22) (m4) The following photos first appeared at the Weibo microblog "Looking At History". The straightforward commentary was: "(Old Photos) various wedding photos 1900-1970."
This drew two types of comments.
On one hand:
- How come they were dressing more and more simple and unadorned over time?
-(Ren Zhiqiang) Poorer and poorer?
-CEO Ren, you have revealed the secret.
-After a bunch of country bumpkins took over in the 1950's, the already small enough happiness became a dream. But the Deng Xiaoping era brought back the wine and women.
- Yes, don't forget to forward this post. Only chickens read but don't forward.
On the other hand:
- Fuck, in the Manchurian dynasty, only the Empress Dowager and the princes can have photos taken. Common folks have no money! These fools are intentionally misleading people.
- Before 1949, only rich people can afford to have photos taken. Ordinary citizens cannot hope to do so. Ren Zhiqiang is blind.
- This series showed how wedding photos have moved from the nobility and wealthy classes to the families of workers, peasants and soldiers.
- According to information, it cost one hundred dan (one dan equals 50 kilograms) to have a photo taken in 1900. This goes to show why type of person can afford it. Nowadays, some newlyweds take nude wedding photos. But what does that say then? Are we even poorer now than 1970?
Different Views On the Bo Xilai Verdict, by sociologist Li Yi
The trial of Bo Xilai is over. For the record, there are over two hundred pages of court transcripts, dozens of English-language reports/commentaries and hundreds of Chinese-language reports/commentaries. Here I will analyze some essays that represent rightist and leftist views.
(1) Han Deqiang is an associate professor of management science at the Beihang University. He is a renowned leftist. It is Han Deqiang's view that the Chongqing model is a path by which the Chinese Communist Party can reform itself. As such, the model is truly socialism with unique Chinese characteristics. It is the only way to avoid polarization of the population, geographical separatism and social instability. After the Eighteenth National People's Congress, China chose to go down the Bo Xilai path without Bo Xilai himself. After eighteen months, they scoured the earth to uncover/fabricate evidence and coerce false testimony to come up with these unconvincing accusations against Bo Xilai. In the end, they only managed to prove that Bo was a clean official.
(2) Chen Youxi is a renowned Chinese lawyer. When Bo Xilai was still running the Chongqing anti-crime campaign, a lawyer named Li Zhuang went from Beijing to Chongqing to defend a client. Li Zhuang was arrested. Chen Youxi went to Chongqing to defend Li Zhuang, and thus gained a reputation. Chen Youxi has also defended a number of wealthy clients. Chen wrote an article titled "The successful verdict, the regrettable investigation" about the Bo Xilai trial. Chen thought that the Bo Xilai trial used facts for evidence and relied on the law as standards. As such, the trial was fair and open with the rights of the defendant being protected. This trial had many bright points for the legal system in China. Chen's article can be said to represent the middle-of-the-road viewpoint.
(3) Peking University Law School professor He Weifang is a renowned right-wing leader with a considerable following. His most famous speech (the Xishan Conference Speech) directly called for the Chinese Communist Party to follow what Jiang Jingguo did for the Kuomintang. In his article on the Bo Xilai trial, He Weifang thought that Bo Xilai was the person responsible for the many wrongful verdicts during the Chongqing anti-crime campaign. Therefore, those wrongful verdicts should have been investigated and presented as additional crimes during this trial. In closing, He Weifang also wanted to root out the causes for the Chongqing model in order to prevent future recurrence.
(4) Zhang Qianfan is a PhD in political science from the University of Texas at Austin and a professor at the Peking University Law School. He wrote in The Wall Street Journal that while the Jinan trial may have ended the political career of Bo Xilai, it has not buried his political legacy. Basically, Bo's political crime was to build a Red Fascist empire in Chongqing city. Bo Xilai was highly popular among the Chongqing citizenry, because of his small-scale attacks on the corrupt wealthy class on behalf of the poor and powerless. This political legacy of a Cultural Revolution-style Red Fascism may be replicated successfully elsewhere in China in the future.
Zhang wrote that putting Bo Xilai on trial was not the same as putting the Chongqing model on trial. The truth was that the Chongqing model continued to work in China even while Bo Xilai was being tried. The essence of Red Fascism is the close synchronization of the Communist Party and the government to promote a certain kind of "truth" while obliterating all other kinds of different ideas and speeches through totalitarian control. The anti-constitutionalism movement as of May this year, the oppression of activists such as Xu Zhiyong, Guo Feixiong and others, the recent arrests of Internet celebrities such as Qin Huohuo, Xue Manzi and others can all be regarded as replications of the Chongqing anti-crime campaign. The various local campaigns against Internet rumors (such as the Henan province Qinghe woman who was detained for one week for asking "I heard that there was a murder in Shuzhuang -- does anyone know what happened?") show how the totalitarian machine is working even harder than the Chongqing model. However, the authorities were less effective this time, because they failed to gain public approval. Instead, they have set themselves up on the opposite side of the forces of justice. As lawyer Chen Youxi said it well, the Chongqing model is the enhanced version of the Chinese model. What happened in Chongqing was nothing new relative to what was happening elsewhere in China, except that Bo Xilai raised a high profile for himself on account of his own personal ambitions. Rather than saying that this is Bo Xilai's legacy, it is more like Mao's legacy which Bo revived. In a certain sense, we should be grateful to Bo because he showed us that Red Fascism is indeed alive and well in China.
It is easy to see that the leftist (Han Deqiang) and rightist (He Weifang, Zhang Qianfan) views of the Bo Xilai trial are diametrically opposite and antagonistic to each other. But which represents majority opinion? Today Chinese society can be divided into four basic classes: 470 million workers, 150 million peasants, 120 million Communist Party cadres and other government/party workers and several tens of millions of capitalists. According to a 2013 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences study of the political inclinations of adults living in Chinese urban areas, 38.1% are leftists, 51.5% are middle-of-the-road and 8% are rightists. If that study were to cover the rural area as well, the rightists would surely account for fewer than 5% of the total.
However, the rightists seem to have a stranglehold on many domains such as news coverage, Internet opinion and academic discourse. This leads the rightists to think that they constitute the majority as if they are 80% (or 50%) of the population, and therefore they think that they are ready to rise up and seize power. I sincerely hope that the rightists would be rational and intelligent enough to know that they are merely 5% (or 8%), and they should stop calling for Chairman Mao's portrait to be taken down from Tiananmen Square, or removing Chairman Mao's mausoleum. There are also some irrational leftists but the group as a whole does not seem to want to rise up and seize power.
In March this year, I wrote about the Chongqing model. I made three points. Firstly, the Chongqing model was correct in affirming the accomplishments of Mao Zedong. Secondly, we have learned from bitter lessons that the Cultural Revolution must never be repeated. Today in China, we are confronting the possibility of even greater tragedies, which include the tragedy of Gorbachev destroying the Soviet Union, or China turning into India, or China turning in to Latin America, or China turning into Egypt. Thirdly, China will have universal suffrage sooner or later. In 1987, Deng Xiaoping said that China will have universal suffrage in 50 years' time. Since China has developed quicker than Deng predicted, universal suffrage may come even sooner. Today China has problems with inequality of wealth, corruption and so on. But we should not fantasize that these problems will be solved if (and only if) there is universal suffrage and democracy. China can take immediate steps to solving these problems. For example, China can introduce a law requiring all government/party officials to publicly declare their assets, and another law to limit the amount of assets that can be passed along to the heirs of Communist Party members, etc.
(China Daily) Rumor-mongering website closed in Wuhan. August 30, 2013.
Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, have seized a website spreading rumors online and deleted negatives news, the Wuhan Evening News reported on Aug30. Police have arrested27 people from the website company, including the boss, a man named Tang. The company, set up three years ago, has hired600 post writers in28 provinces and cities, and has312 VIP accounts and220 million fans nationwide.
In May this year, a whistle-blower told police that the website benefited from illegal business.
For example, an investigation showed the website falsely claimed in September that a famous liquor brand had quality problems after mixing alcohol with industrial flavoring after receiving money from a client. The company also deleted negative news online when clients paid for the service, police said.
The Chinese-language reporting had more details ...
(Xinhua) Rumor-mongering earns a million yuan a year; profit chain of Wuman rumor-mongering company revealed. August 31, 2013.
On August 29, the Wuhan police announced that the so-called "largest Internet promotion company in China" has been busted. More than 300 microblog accounts which have "V" celebrity designations with more than 220 million followers were involved. The profit chain behind this company is unveiled ...
The Kongxin Building is a commercial building on 38th Street, Qingshan district, Wuhan city. There are no signs outside rooms 901 and 1101. There are no special decorations and there is no bustling sounds. This looked just like ordinary residential apartments.
At around 3pm on the afternoon of August 23, the order was issued for several dozen police officers to break through the front doors. Meanwhile police officers in Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces took action at the same time. The apartments had been set up as workshops. The living rooms was divided into partitions, with one to three computers in each partition. People were seated in front of the computers, taking down orders, handing out assignments, receiving feedback, making posts ... the sudden intrusion by the police caught them by surprise.
Ever since last year, many rumors that drew broad attention have originated from these two apartments, including rumors such as "a certain local government is using high-pressured pumps to dump contaminated water more than 1,000 meters underground," "a certain winery is using industrial flavoring agents for blending" etc.
The police found that this "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" website was mainly involved in illegal businesses, malicious hyping, intentional rumor-mongering and other criminal activities. As of the time of interdiction, the company has earned more than 1 million yuan in profits. This company was employing more than 600 "hired guns" placed in 28 provinces. They controlled V-designated celebrity microblogs which totalled 220 million followers, the largest one having 1.6 million followers and even the smallest one had 300,000 followers.
In September 2012, "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" received an order to hype that a certain winery was using industrial flavoring agents for blending. This was without any factual basis such as credible test results or even the identity of the client who was paying for this. As a result, the reputation of the winery was severely damaged. "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" earned more than 4,000 yuan as a result.
In March 2013, "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" acted at the behest of a client request to denounce a certain local government on the handling of contaminated water. No authoritative quality testing was conducted. Many different versions of the post appeared through the "water army", resulting in social anxiety and bad impact. As a result, the "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" earned more than 4,000 yuan.
In April 2013, the company acted according to a client request to turn a commercial dispute with a pharmaceutical company into a case of selling fake drugs.
Apart from rumor-mongering and smudging the reputations of others, this company also provided service in erasing negative information and rigging votes on the Internet. Between 2012 and 2013, the company conducted vote-rigging for a number of clients in Zhengzhou, Jiujiang, Xiangyang, Suizhou and elsewhere. In its most recent vote-rigging campaign, the company earned 15,400 yuan.
How did "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" get its orders? How did they organizers its hired guns to complete the missions? The police discovered that the company founder named Tang registered a company under the name of "Internet Technology Company" which established two websites: "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" and "Expert Hired Gun." "One Hundred Thousand Water Army" was mainly responsible for promotion, claiming that it had the capability to accomplish eight types of missions, including hyping on BBS's/microblogs, hyping on QQ groups, adding followers for microblogs, etc. Its website provided the contact information for further discussions.
Once a job has been commissioned, the company went through "Expert Hired Gun" to allocate the assignments. This platform was especially designed for the technically adept. Hired guns from everywhere are welcomed to register and enroll anytime.
Once a hired gun has completed an assignment, he can go to the website and enumerate his accomplishments. The website provides detailed requirements and results for each assignment, as well as the detailed compensations. The company financial manager will issue the compensation accordingly, including wiring money to the accounts of the hired guns.
According to the Wuhan police, the so-called "Internet marketing companies" are in the business of manufacturing rumors and hyping discussion topics. Some of the V-designated celebrities will lend their microblogs out in exchange for money, so that the rumors have broad reach.
According to company founder Tang: "There are different prices for the various services on the Internet. We accept all kinds of assignments. We do not assess the assignments. We don't care about any social consequences. We will do them as long as the price is right. The V-designated celebrities participate through forwarding the rumors."
This reporter searched for the keyword "microblog" on a large Chinese e-commerce website, and found almost 50,000 sellers. The busiest seller completed 5,186 transactions with 4,886 persons last month. A seller provided the price list to this reporter: Making and distributing a microblog post costs 10 yuan to 200 yuan; each comment costs 50 cents. Further, the client can specify the time and frequency, or ask for dissemination through 'bots', or "even summon V-designated celebrities to work."
"We have V-designated celebrities on hand, and they are influential. These people have to be compensated. It costs more to have V-designated celebrities forward the posts."
This website has not been updated for many months. There are two major reasons.
Firstly, I have been writing a weekly column in the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily. The series began last September and has just finished its scheduled run this August. For one full year (September 2012 - August 2013), the newspaper provided me with one full page every Tuesday to tell my family story, beginning with my grandfather Song Chunfang and ending with me. Each week (except for the occasional official holidays), I providedsubmitted four thousand words or so in text. This became quite stressful, as writing in Chinese about art, history and literature does not easy for me.
For those Chinese-language readers who are interested, here are the links to the entire series of 42 installments.
I was interested in this project for a number of reasons.
Firstly, this was an opportunity for me to sort out my family history. By agreeing to write this series, I committed myself to do the necessary research. In my house, there are books, letters and documents lying around in bits and pieces. Without this impetus, they would have remained unread and unorganized. But I now have a somewhat coherent family history to tell based upon these materials.
Secondly, this was an opportunity to further some of my father's projects. Foremost was the presentation of the scholar/poet Wu Xinghua (installments 21-24). He was my father's best friend and he died during the Cultural Revolution at age 40, leaving behind an unexplored body of work. My father had spent a lot of effort to make Wu's poems better known. My series in Southern Metropolis Daily will further that effort. I will be working with his children to get his works re-published in full.
Thirdly, this was an opportunity to offer exegeses of the works of the novelist/essayist Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing). My parents were her best friends, and she left her estate to them when she passed away in 1995. I am currently her literary estate administrator. I used this opportunity to provide exegeses about her life and work (installments 25-40). Since I was working off first-hand hitherto-unseen materials, this section alone is valuable in the study of her works, and she is the most second most studied Chinese writer after Lu Xun.
Fourthly, I wanted to use this opportunity to reflect on my own life. Alas, this was a failure as the two installments (41,42) fell well short of covering my own life. I had too much to say and only two installments (8,000 words) left to say. I will have to wait for another time.
Fifthly, I think that we are now passed the moment of fretting over freedom of speech in China. Instead of asking "Is there freedom of speech?", the question is now, "What would I say now that I can pretty much say whatever I want?" The point here is not to say "Let's overthrow the government!" in order to see if you get arrested or not. The point here is to say "Let's overthrow the government!" because that is what you really want to happen, or else you say whatever it is that you really want to say.
For these and other reasons, this project was worthwhile.
The project is not completely done. I will spend the next two months putting the materials together for a book. This includes re-writing the section about myself. However, most of the work is done already and I can now turn my attention to other projects, including reviving this website.
The other major reason why I stopped updating this site has to do with the state of the Chinese Internet over the past couple of years. When I first started this website, I thought that it was an exciting moment in history when all sorts of good things will come out of the Internet. Many of my initial entries were about how the Internet gave ordinary Chinese people the platform to tell the truth and gave justice a chance. But in time, the process has been perverted as unscrupulous people exploited the platform for their own purposes. Thus, many of my recent entries were of the rumor-busting variety. Every time I read the news, it was just more nonsense that can be dispelled with elementary fact-checking. Eventually, this wore me out. Why should I spend my life busting one rumor after another? I didn't even want to read any news. It was time to quit.
More recently, things have taken another turn. Perhaps this is story of Hegel's dialectic:
The thesis, then, might be an idea or a historical movement. Such an idea or movement contains within itself incompleteness that gives rise to opposition, or an antithesis, a conflicting idea or movement. As a result of the conflict a third point of view arises, a synthesis, which overcomes the conflict by reconciling at a higher level the truth contained in both the thesis and antithesis. (Reference- Encarta Encyclopedia)
My sense is that people are sick of the rumor mongering now. They are more aware of manipulative efforts. So this is perhaps the right moment to come back.
"Headquarters" of ESWN (Southern Metropolis Daily, August 27, 2013)
- September 1, 2012-August 31, 2013
- April 1-August 31, 2012
- January 1-March 31, 2012
- December 1-31, 2011
- August-November, 2011
- July 1-31, 2011
- April 1-June 30, 2011
- March 1-31, 2011
- February 1-28, 2011
- January 1-31, 2011
- December 1-31, 2010
- November 1-30,2010
- October 1-31,2010
- September 1-30,2010
- August 1-31,2010
- July 11-31,2010
- July 1-10,2010
- June 21-30,2010
- June 1-10,2010
- May 21-31,2010
- May 11-20,2010
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- April 11-30,2010
- April 1-10,2010
- March 1-31,2010
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- January 11-20, 2010
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- December 11-31, 2009
- December 1-10, 2009
- November 21-30, 2009
- November 11-20, 2009
- November 1-10, 2009
- October 11-31, 2009
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- August 21-31, 2009
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- August 01-10, 2009
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- November 21-30, 2008
- November 11-20, 2008
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- October 21-31, 2008
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- March 1-10, 2008
- February 21-29, 2008
- February 11-20, 2008
- February 1-10, 2008
- January 21-31, 2008
- January 11-20, 2008
- January 1-10, 2008
- December 21-31, 2007
- December 11-20, 2007
- December 1-10, 2007
- November 21-30, 2007
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- November 1-10, 2007
- October 21-31, 2007
- October 11-20, 2007
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