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Chinese Reporter Confesses to Libeling Company for Money

Police officers stand vigilant outside the U.S. embassy in London as the Senate Intelligence Committee prepares to release a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics, Dec. 9, 2014.
A Chinese business journalist who exposed alleged financial wrongdoing at a state-owned company has confessed to writing false stories in exchange for money.

Chen Yongzhou, with the New Express newspaper based in the southern city of Guangzhou, was arrested late last week for allegedly "damaging the reputation of a business," after he wrote a series of reports on the finances of the Zoomlion construction equipment company. The Hunan provincial government owns about one-sixth of the company.

Chen appeared on state-run China Central Television Saturday and said that greed and a desire for fame led him to take bribes and run stories alleging financial misdeeds by Zoomlion, the country's second-largest heavy equipment maker.

Chen apologized, saying he repented the crime.

After Chen was arrested, some media groups in China openly challenged authorities about press rights.

Chen's articles alleged that Zoomlion, which is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges, had artificially inflated its profits, reported last year at $7.6 billion.

Previous exposes by New Express have aroused controversy. Another of its reporters was arrested earlier this year after calling for an official investigation of the activities of a senior government official in the megacity of Chongqing, in southwestern China.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to end widespread corruption in the ruling Communist Party, but he also is seen as a leader of those authorities who want to arrest and prosecute any individual involved in exposing official corruption.

A recently enacted party rule calls for up to three years' imprisonment for Internet users whose "defamatory" messages are widely reposted online.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.