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China: Were business newspaper’s investigative reporters fired or given other jobs?

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has condemned the closure of the investigations unit at the daily China Economic Times at the behest of the newspaper’s management on July 18 and is concerned about the fate of Wang Keqin, the respected journalist who had run the unit for years, and the five other people in his team.

The unit’s closure, which defies all editorial logic, comes at a particularly repressive time for those who defend fundamental rights and for independently-minded journalists.

“We wonder what motivated this decision, which was almost certainly not taken for economic reasons,” RSF said. “Was it taken at the highest level of the state apparatus? The newspaper’s management must provide a clear explanation for this measure, which has all the hallmarks of an eviction. A pioneer of investigative journalism in China, Wang has made a major contribution to media freedom.”

Qian Gang of the China Media Project, a Hong Kong-based media studies centre to which Wang is affiliated, said on July 18 that China Economic Times’ investigative unit had been “dismantled.” When contacted by various media, Wang was not in a position to comment on the closure. “I must hang up,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Several sources told RSF that Wang and his team could lose their jobs or could be transferred to other sections at the newspaper.

Since joining China Economic Times 10 years ago, Wang and his team had conducted investigations into sensitive subjects of public interest. In 2002, he published an investigation into shortcomings in the management of the Beijing taxi monopoly. After months of research, he published a report in 2010 on the grave professional misconduct that led to the death of children who had been given defective vaccines in 2006 and 2007. After defending Wang, Bao Yueyang was forced to stand down as China Economic Times editor in May 2010.

Wang has been the target of death threats and physical violence on several occasions as a result of his investigative reporting.

Date posted: July 22, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 16