The New Express (Xinkuaibao), a China based news company, had one of its reporters arrested after writing stories about Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Company. The reporter, Chen Yongzhou, was taken into custody on October 18 on grounds of libel against an unidentified company at the time of his detainment.
It was stated that Chen wrote about 15 stories related to the company. In his reporting he said the company’s accounting regarding sales was improper. As a result of the allegations, the company halted trading shares in Hong Kong and other markets. The company denies that it has purposely made any false accounting in its records.
Zoomlion filed a complaint against the reporter with local police. They accused Chen of attempting to damage its reputation. Company officials stated shares in the company declined 5.9 percent in the Hong Kong market. The report questioned the credibility of sales which investors took note of causing stock to be unproductive.
The reporter arrested after the Zoomlion story was detained in Changsha a southern city in China. The New Express published a front page headline requesting release. Xu Jinglong, partner Zhong Lun Law Firm, said, “Police should be cautious when it takes action across different jurisdictions.” He feels strongly about protecting freedom of the press.
New Express is based in Guangzhou and strongly feels that its employee should be released immediately without cause. The paper had a previous reporter Liu Hu arrested for similar reporting of the company giant. Zoomlion is China’s second-largest entity in construction equipment making and has many connections among government officials.
It must also be noted that other news organizations have reported similar allegations about Zoomlion’s business affairs. Hong Kong based Ming Pao Daily broke a story in January with concerns about company sales practices and business deals. It is well known that China’s economy is slowing and the company posted a 48 percent drop in profit in six months that ended in the month of June.
China’s government has instituted a concerted effort to clamp down on rumors and news that it deems false in nature. Ming Pao Daily reported that it received an unsigned letter with details of false sales reporting by Zoomlion. Officials of the company in a statement said of the letter it was, “false, groundless and misleading.”
Reporters will be arrested after posting any Zoomlion based story online and in print media. All the accusations against the company has affected it’s market functions on the open market and has garnered the attention of many observers. Heavy scrutiny of all accusers is being done by China’s legal system and charges are readily being levied.
By Thomas Barr