지난해 11월 상해 푸동 경제지구. (자료사진)
지난해 11월 상해 푸동 경제지구. (자료사진)

Chinese police have arrested several journalists at an influential financial newspaper on suspicion of extorting money from businesses.

The journalists at the 21st Century Business Herald were among eight people state media say are being questioned by police in Shanghai.

Also detained were employees at two public relations firms that authorities believe worked with the journalists to blackmail at least 10 companies.

The official Xinhua news agency says the suspects told the companies to pay large fees in order to receive favorable coverage from the paper.

If the companies did not pay the fee, the paper would "release negative reports maliciously attacking them."

Authorities have not said what, if any, false stories were published in the paper as a result of the scam.

Beijing has been cracking down on journalists who accept bribes, a phenomenon that many say is common in the low-paid profession.