Veteran Chinese Reporter Reveals Darkness in Journalism in China
Qi Chonghuai has been a news reporter for 13 years. He is a correspondent of China Legal News Legal System Morning Post (Fazhi Zaobao) in Shandong Province. China Legal News is a national media. Because he has written numerous sensitive reports, a lot of his articles were not published in newspapers, periodicals or on websites in mainland China, and he has been approached and harassed from different sources. He feels helpless facing the enormous pressure. The Epoch Times recently conducted an interview with Qi Chonghuai
China's Ministry of Publicity Sets Reporting Limits; Authorities Bribe News Media and Reporters
Qi Chonghuai exposed that China's Ministry of Publicity once released a regulation, which states 27 types of events that are not allowed to be reported. These include emergency accidents, Falun Gong issues, birth control issues, laid-off worker issues and farmers deprived of their lands.
In Qi's report, “Illegal Land Appropriation Causes Farmer Homelessness in Hezhe, Shangdong,” he reported that Wen Jiabao, China's Premier, visited a farmer's house in Hezhe, Shangdong Province during the Chinese New Year holiday in 2006. The farmer was later detained. Qi, who resides in Jinan, the capital city of Shangdong Province, traveled four times to that village to investigate this incident. He completed this report on May 14, 2007 and the report was published by the on-line version of the South Wind Through Window magazine (www.nfcmag.com) after the editors did a major revision. But the report was only published one night. The Hezhe Publicity Ministry put pressure to the leaders of the magazine and Qi's report was deleted, with only the title left online.
In June, 2006, Qi reported a forced house demolition incident together with other reporters from Market News of People's Daily and China Talents . They wrote the report “Hezhe Officials Say No Place Can Escape Death in Relocation.” The report was published in the magazine Observation on November 29. Local residents downloaded this article, copying and posting it in the area of Hezhe City. Later, Observation was ordered to stop publication.
The local Ministry of Publicity wanted to repair their bad reputation by promising to bring Qi Chonghuai two pages advertisements, with a total value of 140,000 yuan (US $20,000). Qi refused the bribe. Meanwhile, the reporter from Market News of People's Daily and China Talents were offered 100,000 yuan ($12,000) and 60,000 yuan ($8,000) respectively.
Qi Chonghuai told The Epoch Times that he once visited the scene to write the report “Female News Hostess Dies on Mayor's Bed.” He sent the report to dozens of newspaper and magazines. But the report was not published in any of them.
One of his reports, “Zoucheng City Woman Experiences Naked Accident,” could not be published for eight months after its completion. In no time after the report was sent to a news agency whose editor called the related units to verify the truth, the Zoucheng Publicity Ministry immediately went to the editor's office to stop the publication. To prevent the article's publication, Kong Xianwei, vice director of Zoucheng Publicity Ministry, made more than 30 calls to Qi Chonghuai.
Sever Corruption and Degeneration of China's Media
Qi Chonghuai thinks that it is a bound duty for media workers to reveal the truth. But with the corruption and degeneration of the whole society, the media system has been lost, too. In China, being a reporter was regarded as one of the most dangerous occupations. Qi said, the officials are become incredibly corrupt and if news media becomes the same, who will supervise the government?!
Qi disclosed that it was common in mainland China that a journalist was required to solicit tens of thousand of yuan in advertisements every year. To make a living, the reporters were busy at soliciting advertisement which brought them some income. No one cares about whether you have enough interviews or have written articles. Mr. Qi has to solicit up to 200,000 yuan advertisements for his newspaper office every year.
Qi pointed out that after Beijing Common People Magazine (Baixing Zazhi) received his article “Zoucheng City Woman Experiences Naked Accident,” the magazine editor did not verify the news for publication but instead contacted the local government to exchange the article for money. Qi said sadly that with the corruption of the whole society, the news media has already lost its moral standard. It is dreadful that they put money in front of the media's responsibility—maintaining society's righteousness.
Qi said that news media has degenerated to the deepest pit because of the crux of the system problem. Interest groups that may be exposed trade with reporters for news and bribe newspaper reporters. Media workers wallow in degeneration and are dragged into the corruption. All these make some righteous reporters and editors feel tremendous pressure and heavy heartedness.
No Guarantee of Reporters' Personal Safety
It is quite common in China for a righteous and responsible reporter to be beaten, threatened while going about their duties.
Qi disclosed that recently when he and a fellow reporter of the Shandong Worker Newspaper left a restaurant, the other reporter was stabbed three times! The attacker was the person who was exposed in a report by the fellow reporter. As a person in charge of the Shandong journalist station, Qi has considerable influence in the local area. He said he was not afraid of such terrorism and political persecution; however he feels sad and deeply frustrated to be a reporter in China.
Qi also revealed that on March 29, 2005, after an explosion happened in a chemical plant in Qingdao Pingdu City, he took a five-hour ride by train from Jinan to the accident site. That evening local minister of the Publicity Ministry met him and invited him for dinner. The officials told him not to write any reports—the mayor and party secretary of Ping Du city were trusted followers of Du Shichen (who was the Party Secretary of Qingdao Municipal Committee of Shandong Province that was dismissed later). No one dared to offend him.
Qi, though threatened, still decided to send the report to the China Production Safety Newspaper . The local authorities were provoked and they organized a working group—a special team—to sue his newspaper office and got the Ministry of Publicity involved…
Articles Published by The Epoch Times Attract Readers' Attentio
Recently The Epoch Times published Qi's two articles, titled “Zoucheng City Woman Experiences Naked Accident” and “Investigation of the Death of a Female Student in Shandong Taishan College.” Qi said he was moved to tears. He exclaimed that The Epoch Times dares to publish various reports which the mainland media dare not publish. He admires The Epoch Times for its courage to post so-called sensitive news. He was more touched that evening when he received messages from readers in Inner Mongolia, Beijing, Hilar and Shandong expressing their admiration for his courage.