News / Asia

Activists Denounce China State TV 'Interview' with Detained Journalist

Chen Yongzhou on Chinese state television.
Chen Yongzhou on Chinese state television.
Chinese legal rights activists are denouncing authorities for putting a detained journalist on state television to confess to making false accusations about a state-owned company.

The legal activists said Saturday's CCTV broadcast of the confession by Chen Yongzhou violated his right to due process, because he has yet to face any charges and remains under investigation.

Police from the south-central city of Changsha detained Chen in the southern city of Guangzhou on October 19, on suspicion of damaging the reputation of Changsha-based engineering company Zoomlion.

Chen wrote a series of articles about Zoomlion for Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, alleging that the machinery maker inflated its profits. The CCTV footage showed him in detention in a Changsha prison, where he told an interviewer that he falsified the Zoomlion accusations in return for money and fame.

Trial by TV?

Beijing-based rights lawyer Li Zhuang expressed outrage at the state television broadcast. Speaking to VOA by phone, he said it reminds him of how he faced accusations of falsifying evidence when he defended a mobster targeted by authorities in the southwestern city of Chongqing.

"Chinese state security laws expressly stipulate that during the investigative stage of a crime, all pieces of evidence are state secrets. How is it possible for public media to expose them?" asked Li.

"This is the same as when Chongqing authorities arrested me. They investigated many pertinent witnesses ... and forced them to acknowledge my guilt. After I had been detained for just three or four days, [the witness testimonies] all were published on CCTV, convicting me in the court of public opinion. This kind of practice is extremely wrong and also illegal."

Li was jailed in 2010 and released the following year.

Another Chinese rights lawyer, Si Weijiang, compared Chen's televised confession to pre-trial judgment. In an interview with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Si asked "who gave CCTV the right to violate ... legal procedures?"

Chen's treatment questioned

Some Chinese Internet users expressed concern about marks that appeared on Chen's neck as he appeared on CCTV, and they speculated that he may have been pressured to confess through physical abuse. Others commented about how his hands appeared to make nervous gestures during the interview.

A spokesman for Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders said in a VOA interview that the broadcast "raises many questions" about the conduct of Chinese police. Benjamin Ismail said the group is trying to determine the facts.

"It would not be the first time the authorities are mistreating a journalist or blogger that they arrest," said Ismail. "There are many reports in which the authorities have beaten, and even in some cases for the most active or prominent cyber dissidents, tortured their prisoners. So it is something that we have to consider and to investigate to be sure that he wasn't the victim of beating and mistreatment by the authorities."

China's media regulator, the General Association of Press and Publishing (GAPP), said last week it "firmly supports the media conducting normal reporting activities ... and firmly protects the legal rights of journalists."

Media ethics under scrutiny

New Express published an apology about the Zoomlion case on Sunday, saying it failed to properly verify Chen's stories, and accusing him of violating journalistic ethics. It was an abrupt turnaround for the newspaper, which had defended Chen days earlier with two front-page appeals for his release.

The South China Morning Post quoted two unnamed New Express reporters as saying the government forced the Guangzhou newspaper to print the apology.

Whether the apology was forced or not, newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan said Chen's alleged misconduct has drawn attention to a wider ethics problem in the Chinese media. They said some journalists accept money from the subjects of their stories, either as a favor or through blackmail.

Reporters Without Borders' Ismail said corruption within the Chinese press is an issue that should be addressed. But he said the Chinese government first should address more serious threats to press freedom, such as harassment of journalists and censorship.

Ismail also said China should be willing to learn from best practices in other nations.

"When nongovernmental organizations like ours, who provide training including media ethics, are banned from entering the country and from providing the training to the journalists, how can you expect the development of a favorable environment for the press in China?" he said.

Dahai Han of VOA's Mandarin Service contributed to this report from Hong Kong. Michael Bond contributed from Washington.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid