Changsha police official microblog (weibo) channel “Police Matters” confirmed last night that a reporter named Chen Yongzhou (陈永洲), from New Express (新快报), had been arrested on October 19, for allegedly causing causing damage to a company’s business reputation. This is what a Beijing Youth article republished by Xinhua says. His case was still under review, Changsha’s public security bureau is quoted.
The New Express, is one of Guangzhou’s main three newspapers, Beijing Youth explains. The “Express” is run by Yangcheng Evening News Group, a company founded in 1998 and also operates the Yangcheng Evening Post (羊城晚报), “Newsweek” (新闻周刊), Yangcheng Sports (羊城体育), Private Economy News (民营经济报), and “Guangzhou Construction News” (广东建设报), among others. Changsha, Hunan Province, is where Zoomlion, the company whose reputation had allegedly been damaged by Chen, is based.
Public information shows that from September 26, 2012 until June 1, 2013, Chen Yongzhou published ten critical articles concerning Zoomlion and “inflated profits”, “tunneled profits” [or maybe “conveyed benefits”, depending on translation – JR], “abnormal marketing” and alleged fraud.
In July, writes Beijing Youth, Gao Hui, assistant to Zoomlion’s board chairman, wrote on a microblog that Chen had blackened the company’s name and caused significant drops in its share prices, apparently – as far as I understand Chinese – under rather strongly-worded subject lines (舆霸与打手).
Also according to Beijing Youth, Express said in a statement on August 8 that it had taken legal action against the company and Gao Hui. A civil charge says that Gao Hui had unfoundedly and deliberately described the paper’s reports as false, thus damaging its reputation, and violated the reporter’s legal rights. Damages of 1 Yuan (sic, probably a typo) for the publisher and 100,000 Yuan for the reporter were demanded, as well as an apology.
The BBC writes that the Express has made a front-page plea for Yong’s release. Chen had spent three days and three nights in custody before he saw a lawyer, the BBC quotes from the editorial.
» Second frontpage plea, BBC, Oct 24, 2013