Officials' explanations of Sun's beating were widely run in
Chinese media, such as the Global Times
and the People's
Daily. According to the official version of the story as reported in
the Peoples' Daily, "Six people have
been detained on suspicion of attacking a journalist, police in Kuitun, the
The official version, however, has been met with skepticism within much of China's online community (a Chinese-language Twitter summary is indicative of the response). According to the Global Times' report on Sun, he often wrote stories critical of the government, including a recent one that "suggested that a township government in Kuitun forcibly knocked down a dairy company building to make way for homes for government officials."
"There are too many reasons to doubt the official version of
Sun Hongjie's horrific beating to allow it to be dismissed as a mere dispute
between friends," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "The
investigation into the attack on Sun must be taken out of the hands of local
authorities and carried out at least at the provincial level, if not by the
central government in
CPJ counts 34 journalists in jail in China, but in an October special report, "In China a debate on press rights," CPJ noted a "broad but incremental" move toward an assertion of reporters' press rights, with the central government at times seeming to encourage media rights in limited spheres such as business coverage and local issues. Most journalists and their editors in China self-censor to avoid conflict with editorial guidelines that steadily emanate from the Central Propaganda Department, CPJ found, but the country's media are growing more aggressive, largely driven by consumers' expectations and a somewhat freer online atmosphere, though many areas remain taboo.