April 2, 2002
His Excellency Jiang Zemin
President, People’s Republic of China
C/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Via facsimile: (202) 588-0032
CPJ is gravely concerned by the recent physical assault against Yang Wei, a photographer for the Chinese-language daily Jinghua Shibao (Beijing Times).
Yang was working undercover to investigate reports of mismanagement and unfair pricing at a Beijing property management company called Zhongchuang. The investigation focused on Zhongchuang’s management of the Shiliu Yuan Estates in Beijing’s Fengtai District.
On March 24, after discovering that Yang was a journalist, several Zhongchuang staff members beat him up, according to local news reports. Yang was taken to the Chaoyang Hospital, where he was treated for a damaged eardrum. He was released from the hospital on March 26.
Immediately following the beating, police detained four suspects. All four were released without charge on March 27, Jinghua Shibao reported. While officers at the Fengtai District precinct have pledged to resolve this case, no progress has been made so far.
In recent years, journalists in China have faced increasing threats for reporting on misconduct or corruption by both state officials and private citizens. According to the English-language newspaper China Daily, more than 20 cases of violence against journalists have been reported since 1997.
CPJ has also documented several recent cases of Chinese journalists imprisoned in reprisal for their reporting on corruption.
In light of the assault against Yang, Chinese government officials, media workers, and private individuals have urged greater protections for Chinese journalists. “The legal right of journalists to report is repeatedly being violated…Any behavior that attacks, obstructs or harms journalists is illegal and should be punished by law,” an official with the State Press and Publications Administration told Jinghua Shibao.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ calls on the government to ensure that law enforcement authorities investigate the attack on Yang Wei and prosecute those responsible. We also respectfully urge Your Excellency to guarantee that the right of all journalists to work freely and safely is protected by law.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We await your response.