Chinese authorities arrested a journalist on Tuesday for writing an article examining recent trades within the Beijing stock market. Although the business reporter has been accused of fabricating and spreading false information about securities and futures trading, police have not disclosed any formal charges against the reporter after taking him into custody. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the Chinese government to release the reporter and drop any charges filed against him for simply doing his job.
After China’s stock market plummeted roughly 30% in mid-June, the Chinese government began pumping tens of billions of yuan into the market through dozens of securities companies. These companies received funds from the state-owned China Securities Finance Corp (CSFC) in an attempt to stabilize the market.
But on July 20, Wang Xiaolu, a journalist for the Beijing-based business magazine Caijing, reported that the government was considering abandoning its plan to continue financially supporting the stock market. Although the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) immediately denied the story and labeled it “irresponsible,” his article was later considered a catalyst for the enormous drop in Chinese stocks in late July.
With an extremely volatile week in the stock market, Chinese authorities have recently ordered the domestic media to delete specific articles on recent stock market moves. At least three of the leading state media outlets, including thePeople’s Daily, Xinhua, and China Central Television, refuse to even mention the turbulent market.
According to the Chinese government’s official press agency, Xinhua, police arrived at Xiaolu’s house on Tuesday with a subpoena. Accused of “fabricating and spreading false information about securities and futures trading,” Xiaolu was taken into custody even though authorities refuse to disclose whether he has been formally charged with committing any crimes. In support of the magazine’s reporter, Caijing posted a statement on its website Wednesdaydefending “journalists’ rights to do their duty under the law.”
“Chinese authorities’ hypersensitivity to fluctuations in the financial markets is no reason to intimidate and jail a journalist for covering the news,” asserted CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “We call on Chinese authorities to immediately release Wang Xiaolu.”
According to a CPJ prison census conducted in December, China leads the world in imprisoning journalists. At least 44 reporters currently reside in Chinese prisons.