China: two financial journalists sentenced to jail terms

RSF urges Chinese authorities to release two financial journalists sentenced last month to jail terms for the simple act of revealing the existence of an investigation against the chairman of Yili Industrial Group, a powerful dairy company.

On October 24, a court in the Chinese Autonomous Province of Inner Mongolia sentenced financial reporters Zou Guangxiang and Liu Chengkun to prison terms of one year and eight months, respectively, on the charge of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." Their sentencing comes after having revealed the existence of an investigation against Pan Gang the chairman of the dairy group Yili, from the region.

Zou was arrested in Beijing in March, two days after disclosing on his blog the existence of the investigation, information which became viral and caused a 3.5% fall in the share price of the company. Liu took some elements of the story and published them as fiction, probably to protect himself, which did not prevent his arrest a few days later.

"These two journalists have done their job by bringing crucial information to the public’s attention and it is outrageous that it costed them their freedom, said Cédric Alviani, director of RSF’s East Asia office, who condemns "the policy of terror put in place by the Chinese authorities to replace independent journalism with a new media order based on censorship and propaganda.”

China is one of the world’s most egregious jailers of journalists, holding more than 60 professional and non-professional journalists behind bars. In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by RSF, the country stagnates at 176 out of 180.

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Updated on 21.11.2018