Wang Hongquan, founder of The China News Agency, an anti-corruption news source registered in Hong Kong, independent from Chinese state media, and employees Tang Yunli and Li Hede, were sentenced on 9th June 2020 by the Ganyu District Court in Lianyungang City (Jiangsu province), on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, to eighteen and thirteen months in prison, and twelve months probation respectively. The two employees have since been released as they have been detained for a period exceeding their original sentences, whilst Wang Hongquan remains in prison.
“Reporting on corruption is not a crime and these journalists should never have been indicted in the first place, let alone be detained”, says Cédric Alviani, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau, who calls for “a revision on the judgement” and “the immediate release of Wang Hongquan as well as all other press freedom defenders currently detained in China”.
The Hong Kong-registered media agency, which has recently been shut down, focused on denouncing facts of corruption that affected the officials of provincial governments in China, in particular those of Jilin and Heilongjiang (northern provinces), as well as Henan (southern province).
China is the world’s biggest captor of journalists with at least 115 detainees, often being held in life-threatening conditions. Since taking on the mantle of leadership in 2013, President Xi Jinping has placed state and private media under even closer control and has augmented internet censorship and surveillance to unprecedented levels.
China ranks 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.