California Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Head of China-Controlled US Newspaper

By Rudy Blalock
Rudy Blalock
Rudy Blalock
Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.
March 27, 2023Updated: March 28, 2023

A man accused of shooting and killing his boss at a U.S.-based, Chinese-language newspaper’s office in Alhambra, California, in 2018 pleaded guilty on March 27.

Zhong Qi Chen, 63, who confessed to the murder of Yining Xie, founder and chairman of China Press—or Qiao Bao in Chinese—will face a combined maximum sentence of 21 years in state prison for involuntary manslaughter and the intentional use of a firearm.

The prosecutor, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Cindy Park, said during the hearing that the defendant may be eligible 15 years later for elderly parole—for those who are at least 50 years old and have been in custody for at least 20 years, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Chen has been in custody since November 2018.

His sentencing has been scheduled for May 1.

Epoch Times Photo
Zhong Qi Chen, of El Monte, Calif., was arrested for suspicion of murder with a firearm in Alhambra, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2018. (Courtesy of Alhambra Police Department)

Chen, a Chinese national with U.S. citizenship, could be seen in a yellow prison uniform with an interpreter standing next to him.

He also admitted to using a semi-automatic pistol and shooting the victim three times in the head, four times in the chest, and twice in the back. A motive hasn’t been released by authorities.

On Nov. 16, 2018, Xie, 58, was pronounced dead at 9:40 a.m. with multiple gunshot wounds. He was found on the second floor of the newspaper’s Alhambra building, according to police.

Chen was arrested on the same day for suspicion of murder, and a handgun was recovered by officers from the scene. Investigators said at the time that they believed that a workplace dispute led to the shooting.

Epoch Times Photo
Yining Xie, founder and chairman of the U.S.-based Chinese-language newspaper China Press, was shot to death inside the publication’s office in Alhambra, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2018. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Chen was released three days later after posting a bond for his $1 million bail—before being arrested again the next day on a Los Angeles County Superior Court warrant with his bail being set at $6 million. The bail amount was later reduced to $3 million by a judge.

Chen pleaded not guilty later that month to a murder charge, with allegations that he used a handgun and caused great bodily injury and death, according to a statement (pdf) from Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

China Press’ Close Ties to the CCP

China Press published an obituary in November 2018 with a brief timeline of Xie’s career.

After graduating from university in 1982, Xie became a reporter for the state-run China News Service. In 1987, Xie became the White House correspondent for the news service. In 1992, he left his position to establish China Press in San Francisco; the newspaper also has editions in Los Angeles and New York.

China Press's webpage.
China Press’s webpage, with a remembrance photo and message about the passing of its founder, Xie Yining. (Screenshot)

China Press has long been known in the U.S. immigrant community for its pro-Beijing views and tendency to repeat the Chinese Community Party’s propaganda on a wide range of issues.

The publication is under the umbrella of Rhythm Media Group, a California-registered firm founded in 2003 with several Chinese-language media outlets, a film production company, and a cultural center in its profile.

In 2001, the U.S. think tank The Jamestown Foundation listed China Press as an overseas Chinese newspaper “directly controlled by the Chinese government.”

After Xie’s death, the newspaper’s operation reportedly shrunk, with its West Coast edition switched from daily to weekly print distribution in July 2019, the publication announced the previous month.

Epoch Times staff members Zhou Yuejun and Annie Wu contributed to this report.