China: investigative journalist Shangguan Yunkai sentenced to 15 years in prison on trumped-up charges

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the sentencing of Shangguan Yunkai to 15 years in prison on trumped-up charges. The investigative journalist known for his probes into the corruption of the Chinese officials must be released immediately.

On 5 January 2024, Chinese investigative journalist Shangguan Yunkai was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 380,000 Chinese yuan (around 50,000 euros) by court, in China’s central city of Ezhou, on five charges, including "picking quarrels and provoking trouble” as well as “selling fake medicines”.

Known for his investigations on the corruption of Chinese officials, Shangguan was detained on 20 April 2023. He had just published a report in a series of articles in which he revealed the wrongdoings of several officials and law enforcement in the city of Ezhou.

“This incredibly severe sentence, based on obviously trumped-up charges, clearly comes as a retribution against Shangguan Yunkai’s investigations on corruption. We urge the international community to build up pressure on the Chinese authorities to secure his release alongside all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the country.

Cedric Alviani
RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

Shangguan, who is a former leading reporter of the state-run newspaper Legal Daily, in recent years  ran several groups on WeChat, the leading social media in China, in which he shared evidence of hundreds of officials' and criminals’ violations of discipline and law. In the 1990s, his investigations had already revealed the corrupt practices of Xu Penghang, then vice-governor of Hubei province, in central China, and contributed to the official's dismissal.

Since 2012, in line with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s crusade against the right to information, the Beijing’s regime has stepped up its crackdown on investigative journalists, such as Huang Qi, a seasoned Chinese journalist and the founder of independent media 64 Tianwang sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2019  for “leaking state secrets'' and “providing state secrets abroad”, as well as Huang Xueqin, a figure of China’s #MeToo movement, who has been detained since September 2021 and who faces a 15 years jail sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”.

Ranked 179th out of 180 countries and territories in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index, China is the world's largest jailer of journalists and press freedom defenders, with at least 121 currently detained.

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179/ 180
Score : 22.97
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