Thursday February 27, 2020


September 5, 2014

Chinese authorities detained eight people on Wednesday, charged with demanding bribes from companies in exchange for positive media coverage. Amongst those detained were the editor-in-chief and deputy website editor of the daily newspaper 21st Century Business Herald and executives of two public relations firms based in Shanghai and Shenzhen. They reportedly collaborated to identify companies in the midst of major transitions, such as preparing for stock market listings, who were therefore especially sensitive to the type of press they received. The suspects then offered to ensure the company received good press for a fee. They exaggerated positive stories and buried bad news about the companies that agreed to the offer, while threatening companies that refused to pay with negative press. According to Xinhua, the suspects targeted dozens of companies in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guandong Province.

Media corruption in China is not a new or un-known phenomenon. It has long been known that individuals and companies influence news coverage by providing financial incentives, and that news agencies in turn might demand money for positive coverage. This practice is apparently so well known and effective that some individuals even pose as journalists in order to blackmail companies.

In March, the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department declared a campaign to clean up news media and reduce instances of false new reports, extortion, and bribery. Then, in June, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television announced it would revoke the licenses of any media organizations found guilty of these actions. Since this announcement, a number of prominent media figures have been detained, including Liu Wen, director at China Central Television (CCTV) and producer of the popular series “A Bite of China,” and Rui Chenggang, the star anchor of “Economic News,” a CCTV financial news show.

The crackdown in media corruption is just one part of President Xi Jinping’s broader anticorruption campaign. Since assuming office in 2012, President Xi has overseen the takedown of some of the highest profile government officials to ever face such charges, including former politburo members Xu Caihou and Zhou Yongkang.


For more information on this topic, please see the following news sources:

Al Jazeera- “Shanghai journalists arrested in fraud probe”

Bloomberg- Chinese Police Detain Website Editors in Case of Paid Journalism

South China Morning Post- “Eight Shanghai journalists, PR executives detained over alleged extortion scam”

The New York Times- “Chinese Editors Are Detained in Extortion Investigation”

The Washington PostChina police probe alleged extortion by reporters”

Xinhua- Eight China journalists, PRs face extortion charges

Xinhua (新华)- “上海公安机关侦破一起特大新闻敲诈案件专业财经媒体21世纪网主编等人被立案侦查”

Compiled and edited by Molly Bradtke