While the US has been bombarded by the artificial, mainstream media-fabricated concept of “fake news” for the past month, a strawman erected in an attempt to impose creeping limits on free speech and eliminate any outlet that does not comply with the government narrative and is accused of being “Russian propaganda”, China does not need to beat around the bush. Instead, it has shortcuts, like newspaper editors unexpectedly “falling” to their death.
Case in point: Liu Jiandong, the general manager the 21st Century Business Herald, a major Chinese newspaper group that has been in trouble with the government for alleged blackmail and corruption, mysteriously “fell to his death on Monday”, the newspaper said.
The 21st Century Business Herald carried a short statement on its official microblog from publisher 21st Century Media Ltd saying 21st Century Media’s general manager, Liu Jiandong, had fallen from a building and died despite efforts to save him. As Reuters adds, Liu took up his job in January 2015, which he was dedicated to, and was “upright and honest”, the paper said, adding an investigation was going on.
In a “suicide” that was a carbon copy of the death of Monte Paschi’s David Rossi, the police in the southern city of Guangzhou, where the newspaper is based, said it had responded to a call about a man “falling from an office building.” Police only identified him by his family name, Liu, and said he was a company general manager.
They added that “at the moment” there was no suspicion of murder. They will certainly have no suspicion of murder if their investigation reveals that the Chinese government itself is involved in the “suicide.”
Why was the newspaper on China’s black list? As the WSJ reported last April, China shut the website of a prominent business news daily it had investigated on allegations of extortion, and said other outlets should expect close scrutiny as it presses a campaign to clean up the media.
The media regulator ordered the popular website of the 21st Century Business Herald to cease operations Thursday, the government’s news agency, Xinhua, said. The newspaper was also ordered to strengthen its editorial management, Xinhua said. It cited previously publicized allegations that the website engaged in extortion. By 5 p.m., the site had already been taken down, with viewers directed to a “network error” page.
The newspaper was founded in 2001, just before China’s growth rates began to hit blistering double digits. Published by the Southern Media Group, it became one of the country’s best-respected business papers and built a print readership of about 750,000.
While some allege the Chinese crackdown on the paper was due to its critical reporting of corruption inside the government, Beijing flipped the tables, as investigators allegd it was the website itself that practiced extortion.
After the investigation into the 21st Century Business Herald became public, its top editors were shown on state broadcaster China Central Television in September making apparent confessions, wearing what looked like orange prison garb. Xinhua said Thursday that prosecutors had approved the arrest of 21 people, without elaborating further.
Xinhua quoted the media regulator as saying that such cases “disturb the order of the market and industry and hurt the credibility of the media.”
Or, in other words, China’s government accused its own media of peddling “fake news.”
It then escalated: in 2015, a Chinese court jailed Shen Hao, former president of 21st Century Media Ltd., for four years after finding him guilty of extortion and fraud. Finally, on Monday, the general manager “took his life.”
China’s government has vowed to crack down on corruption in many industries including the media. In some cases, such as this one, the “crack down” is meant quite literally.
Incidentally, this type of subjugation of the media is coming soon to a banana republic near you.
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