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China Frees Reporter "Spy"

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on February 5, 2008

The release of Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong from Chinese prison today [Feb. 5] is wonderful news for him and his family [and his newspaper, the Singapore Straits Times.] But don’t for one minute think that it reflects a wider trend of loosening by Beijing on dissidents. If anything, the government is clamping down even more in the lead up to the Olympics.

According to Human Rights Watch, China is still holding 28 journalists, and hundreds of other dissidents, who have been tried and convicted under various ambiguous charges. One of the most egregious recent examples of this was the high profile arrest of Chinese blogger Hu Jia at the end of December. More than one month after 30 policemen seized him from his Beijing home, his family was finally notified on Jan 31 that he was being held “on charges of inciting subversion of state power.”

Can someone please tell me that the internet musings of this long-time HIV/AIDS activist and champion of human rights and protection of the environment can be viewed as an enemy of the state? As is common in such cases, Hu’s lawyer has been denied access to him, or to any other matters of the trial, ensuring a speedy conviction.

Indeed, Human Rights Watch, though delighted with Ching’s release [he was freed on parole after serving nearly 1000 days of a five year sentence as “a spy for the Taiwanese”], says it doesn’t bode well for others who are still languishing behind bars. “Ching Cheong’s release is a one-off,” says Phelim Kine, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. “The Chinese government has no plans to loosen controls on civil society and media and provide types of freedoms explicit and implicit in the Olympic charter.” Sadly, that’s exactly the message Hu got arrested trying to spread.

Reader Comments


February 5, 2008 6:06 AM

I'm not sure about the others, but this one could be a real spy. It is no secret that both mainland and taiwan have sent their agents in each other to find secrets. Maybe the government release him after he promised to work for the government.


February 5, 2008 10:13 AM

This kind of report, especially on a publication like BusinessWeek, reflects a very anxious America. In the face of serious domestic problems and new rising powers from abroad, Americans look not inside for reform, but outside to other countries for blames. People like Frederik Balfour and Bruce Einhorn give us a very clear picture of the state of mind in the US - fear and dishonesty. Fear that the US is on its rapid descend against other rising powers, and dishonesty about what how much America needs to change and reform itself in the new environment. The pathetic psychology is that it is much easier to curse and sabotage(hopefully) the success of others than it is to improve oneself. That is how empires fall.


February 5, 2008 11:41 AM

Many of the so-called reporters prosecuted in China are real spies. They deserve the "reward" from Chinese government. Being a reporter does not mean you can do things illegally.


February 5, 2008 2:13 PM

If the western journalist really want to know about China better, they need to spend sometimes living among Chinese in the hinterland. Writing from your five star hotels in Shanghai or Hong Kong will make you bias. The government is doing their best to ensure there is peace, stability and development.


February 5, 2008 4:07 PM

so armed with badge "journalist" means spying for free?

Human Rights Watch? a bunch of losers can't survive in their own homelands.


February 5, 2008 7:07 PM

Anyone who comprises China's interest and breaks Chinese law is called "Dissident"?

Takashi Mazomi

February 5, 2008 11:09 PM

Keep on telling yourselves that.

Admit it, China is a land of no freedom, no liberty, no equality, and no justice. It is nation run by fat cat communists who play Sim City with urban centers and ignore the pleas of the Western poor.

Oh, please do not try to make lame excuses to cover this fact.


February 5, 2008 11:43 PM

a few years earlier when I was in college, my economics professor recommended businessweek to us for economics study, he said this is a professional business and economics magazine, but now I don't think so, it obviously become a propaganda tool, maybe you can change the name into politicsweek, even though you are far from qualified, no first hand details, no basic understanding, just irresponsible talks, your article is no better than many of Chinese "Fengqing"--angry youth, think about that, every thing you American accused us, think twice, look what you've done on that, when your soldiers rape girls and shoot children in iraq everyday,what is your human rights? not everyday? sorry, then everyweek, I don't have first hand details, I assume you did that just like the way you report on China, about stdand of human rights, we can discuss with France,Germany,Korea,even enermy Japan, but not you, America have lost its position on this issue, the only thing both sides agree is business, so just back to your job, work on interest rate, foreign echange, stock market, industries, companies, without these things, businessweek is not worth reading.


February 6, 2008 3:30 AM

@Takashi Mazomi, and Japan is full of sex maniacs, perverts and pedophiles. No wonder the women there don't want to give birth anymore. They all want to be men in male dominated society.

In western countries, you maybe have freedom of speech, but it is useless cause nobody care to listen. That's why you have these endless wars. That make the limited freedom of speech in China is so precious. Every voice is so precious that the top leaders will pay attention to them.

Takashi Mazomi

February 8, 2008 10:49 PM


"Every voice is so precious that the top leaders will pay attention to them"

Do you have any proof to support that? And you also say no one pays attention in countries with freedom of speech. Do you have any proof of that?

Were the "precious" voices of protesters at Tienanmen Square heard by the Chinese government? Did the leaders listen to the cries of people who were forced out of homes so an Olympic pool could be built?

What ridicule things you bring up! I wouldn't be surprised if you were a Chinese government appointed blogger.

Don't just go blabbering random things which aren't even true.


February 18, 2008 2:06 PM

Takashi Mazomi,

Do you really know what was happening in 1989 in China?

Chinese top leaders dialogued with students face to face. Do you think this can happen in your country?

I was a student activist back then. So what! I though Chinese students were wrong since they did not know the rules of democracy. In any country, protesting should only an event to speak out your voice. But Chinese students wanted to reach their goal. That's practically wrong. That's why Deng Xiaoping said people would understand gov's action in 20 years. Now, even in less than 20 years, China is now much open to the outside. Do you still hear any Chinese are supporting those Chinese political dissidents? Without support from western countries or organizations, those dissidents can only starve to death. Do you think about this while there are more than 20 million overseas Chinese?

US gov should take a lot of responsibilities. What we students got were false information broadcasted by Voice Of America, an US gov's radio station. China just opened the door, Chinese students were so naive and trusted US's radion without thinking.
Today, things are different as you can feel from the comments left by Chinese.

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