Economic Observer Defends its Reporters

EDIT: Whoops! Wang Keqin works the China Economic Times, not the Economic Observer. And the EO has a better version of this in English here.

They sure know how to stir up trouble over at the Economic Observer. Home to Wang Keqin, the investigative reporter who has uncovered a wide variety of scandals (most recently, the tainted vaccines in Shaanxi), police in Zhejiang recently announced they’re seeking another Economic Observer reporter (Qiu Ziming) who is accused of defaming a company there.

Ever want to know how a Chinese newspaper takes it when the police start coming after one of their own? Wang Keqin posted a recent announcement to his blog that indicates the Economic Observer is, to put it lightly, not going to take this sitting down..

We will use legal measures to protect the right to investigate and report

  1. We are shocked at the online demand for the arrest of our reporter Qiu Ziming as his report on the Kan Specialty Material Co., Ltd. was quite normal. We are greatly concerned for Qiu and his family. Being a responsible part of the media, we adhere to standards of rationality and constructivism. We believe in objective and just reporting principles that should be followed by Qiu Ziming and all reporters.
  2. As a public company, Kan has a duty to publish accurate and complete data. The people have a right to know this information, just as the media has the legal right to supervise public opinion. In the process of reporting [on Kan], the relevant people and the reporter [i.e., Qiu] repeatedly received both bribe offers and threats. We vehemently condemn the attempts [of Kan] to try to use the government to stifle [the media’s legal right to report on and] supervise public opinion, and their threatening the safety of news workers.
  3. The local police organs are the controllers of government power, they should cautiously and legally enforce this power, and safeguard the rights of citizens.
  4. Our paper is in the process of appealing with the National News Publication Office and the Chinese Journalist’s association, and we call on those organs to protect the rights of reporters and news workers to investigate and to report, and to protect their personal safety.
  5. We thank the public and our media colleagues for their support of us and of our reporters. We will use every legal method available to defend our legal rights to investigate and report, while at the same time safeguarding a positive environment for public opinion.

The paper is also running a number of pieces about the situation in their commentary section.

New on ChinaGeeks

  1. There’s a new post on ChinaGeeks Chinese: 中国游说团的终结? Check it out, and please pass the link on to your Chinese friends. Also keep an eye out for @ChinaGeeksCN on Twitter.
  2. If you’re looking to study Chinese and are good enough already that you want to take a stab at reading the original text of what we translate, a clever poster who goes by phyrex over at Chinese Forums has created a pretty cool tool. Going here will take you to a mirrored version of the site where the original text appears in the post and the English translation follows it in a light color that’s difficult to see unless you highlight it. There are lots of options, and he has also made a version for chinaSMACK, so check out his thread for the full scoop, including RSS feeds and some customization ability. Thanks phyrex!

0 thoughts on “Economic Observer Defends its Reporters”

  1. The Economic Observer has been translating its releases for the benefit of the foreign language media. Its statement acknowledging the cancellation of the warrant is in English here (and its in-house version of the above is here).

    The paper’s English-language blog feed is worth subscribing to — capsule summaries of major stories and occasional full length translations, and it now features links to outside stories as well.


  2. @ J: Thanks. I am beginning to think that you know about everything that has ever been published relating to China on the internet! I actually knew the EO was an English paper too, I just got confused between that and the China Economic Times. All these papers with “economic” whatever in the names….annoying.

    Anyway, thanks!


  3. Economic Observer was also behind the joint editorial back in March calling for the abolishment of the Hukou system.
    They had to sack their English editor Zhang Hong over that (or get him through the revolving door anyway), didn’t protest so loudly that time but that was a central government issue.


  4. The big deal is that the police, acting at the behest of local industry, failed to follow proper procedure in issuing a warrant for a journalist, turning what ought to have been a legal process based first of all on fact-finding into a case of harassment. The fact that they revoked the warrant and apologized in the end does not mean that the initial outrage was unjustified. The link you’ve helpfully provided does a good job of explaining exactly what’s at stake.


  5. You mean this kind of crap doesn’t happen in other western countries? There’s a warrant for his arrest doesn’t mean that he is convicted of a crime. This kind of stuff is common and I fail to see what to be outraged about.


  6. Defamation is a crime and the journalist is accused of falsely defaming the company in question, that’s why he is charged and there’s an arrest warrant. How do we know that the journalist was not making up a story for personal gain? I am glad that the journalist was exonerated.


  7. Did you even read the article you linked to, pug_ster? The journalist has not been exonerated: “police officials said earlier Friday that the investigation into allegations of defamation against journalist Qiu Ziming and his newspaper would continue.” The warrant, which was issued improperly, has been dropped, but the case is still going on.

    This is how things should have been in the first place. Defamation is a charge that requires evidence before a warrant is issued, but the local police simply went after the journalist without following procedures designed to protect the innocent from harassment.

    If the journalist was indeed “making up a story for personal gain,” that will be discovered during a proper investigation that is in line with the law. When a company that has been the subject of an unflattering report can have police bend the rules to issue an arrest warrant without following proper procedures, legitimate whistle-blowing and muckraking journalism will suffer.


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