Forbidden City. That's how many people see China's media business. It's a sector where one misstep can mean disaster. Staff at crusading publications are periodically fired for stepping over ever shifting invisible lines. Even as China opens up, the Communist Party tries to keep an iron grip on journalists.
That hasn't stopped Hu Shuli from earning a reputation in the securities industry as "the most dangerous woman in China." That's because Hu's hot three-year-old financial monthly, Caijing, or Business & Finance Review, has blown the lid off abuses in the country's stock market. Last October, the magazine detailed widespread share price manipulation involving 10 leading fund-management firms. This year, it has delved into a pair of big new share-ramping schemes.
As China lurches toward a market economy, Managing Editor Hu and her team have undertaken the ambitious task of reining in the scam artists to make the market safe for investors. To distinguish her operation from other less credible outfits, Hu banned her reporters from accepting "transportation fees" and other thinly disguised bribes from companies they cover. "We have so much news," Hu muses, "and no one wants to cover it."
After suffering alongside her countrymen during the Mao years, Beijing native Hu, 48, was inspired by Deng Xiaoping, whose reforms kindled her interest in business. Now, she's doing her part to put Deng's vision into practice. And she doesn't let the risks stop her.