After Zhang Danhong had lost her position as the Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle) Chinese Department’s deputy manager earlier, Matthias von Hein, head of the department, was removed in December, according to the German Journalists’ Association (a labor union’s) website. More information on the case of Zhang Danhong is here.
She remained a member of the department, but has got into another controversy since after interviewing herself on the Voice of Germany’s website, reports the Frankfurter Rundschau. That’s to say, an intern took the role of asking the questions previously written by Ms Zhang herself, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The Frankfurter Rundschau quotes the Deutschlandfunk, one of Germany’s two nationwide radio stations, as saying that original reports in German had been sugarcoated in Beijing’s favor when translated into Chinese. Allegedly, Tibetan protests became violent riots, and protesters became separatists in Chinese.
The Voice of Germany’s general manager, Erik Bettermann, dismissed blanket condemnations, but said that some reflection on the journalistic quality of the Chinese Department’s work was certainly worth some thought.
Matthias von Hein, who had worked in Beijing during the 1990s before becoming head of the Chinese Department, will be moved to the central editorial department.
Within the cultural committee of Germany’s parliament, social democrats tended to be more supportive of the Voice of Germany, while Christian Democrats and Liberals wanted more time and more information to evaluate the work of the station.
Ulrich Wickert, son of a former German ambassador to Beijing, and Erik Bettermann will review several thousands of old news articles, translated back into German from their Chinese translations. As far as news about the torch relay, last years protests (or riots, make your own choice) in Tibet and the earthquake in Sichuan are concerned, interim results suggest no misconduct – according to supervisors of the station itself, anyway.
Zhang Danhong may not have shown the qualities she should – I think it’s too early for a final verdict -, but given that interview with herself, she probably knows how to sob on both sides of the microphone. The last woman who could do that was Patsy Cline.
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