The following is a translation from a Voice of America (VoA) article published on August 21 and apparently updated early today. Some English terms used in this translation may not match the labor-law meaning accurately.
Corrections are welcome.
Links and footnotes within blockquotes added during translation.
Washington – The sudden dismissal of Deutsche Welle Chinese department reporter Su Yutong (pen name Wu Yu) on August 19 is attracting much attention. According to reports, the prolific journalist was dismissed is related to criticism of a column that whitewashed the 6-4 massacre [i. e. the Tian-An-Men massacre]. There are also reports believing that changes in Deutsche Welle’s guidelines on covering China le d to the dismissal of Su Yutong who was originally a dissident. Deutsche Welle denied such questions posed by reports and on social media.
Su Yutong’s sudden dismissal had first been disclosed on Twitter by internet commentator Bei Feng (actual name Wen Yunchao) on 19th of August.
One day before, Wu’er Kaixi, a former leader oft he Beijing student movement [of 1989] came to Deutsche Welle headquarters in Bonn to protest against the article published on June 4 which was seen as beautifying the CCP’s opening fire to suppress the citizens and students of Beijing. This article, titled “From Tian An Men to Leipzig”, diluted the 6-4 incident to “a momentary mistake in the history of New China”1).
This article, written by Deutsche Welle commenator Frank Sieren in Beijing, led to strong rebounds from the organization “Tian An Men Mothers“ and from 89 participants in [the 1989] movement.
这篇文章由德国之声新雇用的驻北京特约评论员泽林(Frank Sieren) 撰写，引起了六四难属团体“天安门母亲”和众多89民运参与者的强烈反弹。
Frank Sieren, who says that he has lived in Beijing for twenty years, allegedly owns a media company. Some critics who started joint protests demand that Deutsche Welle drop Sieren’s controversial article. Su Yutong and another contributing Deutsche Welle commentator, former “Southern Weekend” news department director Chang Ping, took part in the joint protests. Chang Ping also published articles on Deutsche Welle’s website, in a debate with Sieren.
Deutsche Welle spokesman Johannes Hoffmann issued a statement2) confirming that the freelance working contract with Su Yutong had been terminated, because of inappropriate behavior.
[Hoffmann‘s] statement said Deutsche Welle objects to talk on social media about political motivations for the termination of Su Yutong’s contract, or about the termination being related to limits to freedom of expression at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department . The statement emphasized that diversity of opinion was respected, and that the immediate measure [of dismissing Su Yutong] had been made because of breach of trust between Deutsche Welle and Su Yutong.
The statement accuses Su of not heeding repeated admonishments and kept tweeting internal and confidential information about Deutsche Welle and the organization’s editorial staff, thus opposing staff hired by the organization and the organization’s management in her actions.
The statement said that terminating Su Yutong’s employment is the result of inappropriate behavior, not a restriction on freedom of expression. The statement said that no employer would accept her behavior.
Su Yutong told VoA in an interview Deutsche Welle executives had emphasized that the station could not become “Voice of the Dissidents”, but that she had only published, on her own behalf, published information concerning the debate about Sieren’s article and its publication.
Su Yutong says that she can calmly accept [the allegation] that she acted against internal Deutsche Welle regulations, but continued to believe that the debate about Sieren’s article had been a public matter and that it was necessary for the truth of the matter to be handled publicly, rather than to be processed in a dark room.
“When it comes to this kind of internal meeting at Deutsche Welle, I can accept that from that perspective. But from where to judge this incident with Sieren’s article, that being processed as an internal Deutsche Welle issue, is something that needs to be taken to the public. I stand by this opinion. I believe that this is a public matter. ”
Su Yutong told VoA that when Deutsche Welle executives and the Deutsche Welle Asia department director informed her about her dismissal without knowledge of the circumstances, they also mentioned another reason, saying that it was related to new Deutsche Welle director Peter Limbourg’s demand that the Chinese department “should not criticize Beijing all the time “. Limbourg is going to take part in a Sino-German media forum organized by official Chinese media in early September.
Su Yutong says: “She (the program director) said that Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department needed a new direction. I believe that you don’t fit into this new direction. This is the reason she gave me for my dismissal. So I asked her, very curiously. I said that I have worked for Deutsche Welle for four years, and all my reports, no matter what, were always rated best by our evaluation system. I said that I had always acted in accordance with Deutsche Welle’s rules of journalistic professionalism when reporting. Now you are saying that I don’t meet these standards, but I that what I have embodied in the reports is just this professional quality. As for values, I think that in my reporting, some can be seen. My position has also been constant. If you say that my your direction and mine are not the same, doesn’t that amount to a direction oppsite to mine? She also refused to answer this question.”
In an email reply to VoA on August 21, Deutsche Welle’s international relations department attached the statement by the spokesman quoted above, but there was no reply to the questions as to how Su Yutong’s coninuous performance at Deutsche Welle was assessed.
In recent days, the grudges and disputes between Deutsche Welle and Su Yutong have been reported by Germany’s “Spiegel Online” and other German media, as well as detailed coverage by some overseas media in Chinese. Huanqiu Shibao, a paper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party, also published a commentary about the storm around Su Yutong’s dismissal. This incident brought the 2008 incident back into focus when then deputy Chinese department director Zhang Danhong had been criticized for beautifying Beijing’s policies, which had resulted in her removal.
Su Yutong revealed that in July, the former Chinese department director, who had always supported her work, was transferred to another department, and that a new director had been parachuted into the Chinese department from Berlin.
The dismissed reporter said that she had been paid on a daily basis [unsure about my translation of the payment description here – JR], that the contract ends with the end of the year, and that she will then face the issue that she cannot continue to live in Germany legally. She also said that she was asked to close the office computer on the spot, to hand over the swipe card and to leave immediately. She didn’t get the respect former employees should get, and there hadn’t even been time to say Goodbye to some colleagues. She pledged to take up with Deutsche Welle by legal means.
Su Yutong left China in the late 1980s. She had been in charge of an NGO in Beijing, active in human-rights activities, and therefore harrassed and pursued by state security. In 2010, after arriving in Bonn, she was hired by those in charge at Deutsche Welle at the time.
A comment in the article’s comenting section warns VoA’s Chinese department:
The CCP-leaning, pro-Zhang-Danhong forces are launching a counteroffensive! VoA’s Chinese department should take some lessons from this, and must not allow pro-CCP forces to spread successfully there! I remind the Chinese department at VoA that it should have a plan ready to check up the moles and to take preventive measures!
There are more comments of the same tenor, but also comments angry at “anti-China” forces:
Come and work for VoA. In any case, these are the anti-China headquarters, the paradise for anti-China people.
That said, paradise today might be hell tomorrow.
1) the German version of Sieren’s article refers to “a one-off in new Chinese history – “ein Ausrutscher in der neuen chinesischen Geschichte “. “New China” isn’t mentioned.
2) The Deutsche Welle statement in full, of August 21.
» Those Southern newspaper commentators, Jan 28, 2013