A Chinese flag flutters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China in December 2017. Police from Inner Mongolia arrested journalist Zou Guangxiang at his Beijing home on March 28, 2018, according to news reports. (Reuters/ Stringer)

China arrests journalist for 'spreading rumors' after he reported on Yili Group

April 6, 2018 3:54 PM ET

Taipei, April 6, 2018--Chinese authorities should immediately release from custody journalist Zou Guangxiang and stop harassing the media for doing its job, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police from Inner Mongolia's Hohhot city on March 28 arrested Zou, who publishes his own financial news blog Guangxiang Caijing, at his home in Beijing for "spreading rumors," according to news reports and the Weibo social media account of government-run news outlet Hohhot News. Zou has not been charged, according to Hohhot News.

CPJ was unable to determine where Zou is being held.

Zou's arrest came two days after he published an article on his blog about tense relations between Chinese authorities and Pan Gang, chairperson of Yili Group, China's largest dairy producer. In the article, Zou wrote that Pan was secretly running his business remotely from the United States for nearly six months and was taken away by authorities right after his recent return to China.

Yili Group's board of directors on March 27 issued a statement saying that the company is operating normally and denied that Pan was under investigation.

"Reporting the news should not be a crime - in China or anywhere," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler from Washington D.C. "Zou Gangxiang should be freed from jail immediately."

CPJ's call to the Hohhot Public Security Bureau for comment went unanswered.

In a separate case, Hohhot police arrested Liu Chengkun, who runs the financial news microblog Tianlu Caijing and previously worked for government-owned publication Time Weekly, in Beijing on April 2 on charges of "spreading rumors," according to news reports.

Liu's arrest came after he wrote two short stories about a fictional Mr. Pan who bore striking resemblances to Pan from Yili Group. Both stories were originally posted on Tianlu Caijing, but were deleted and later reposted to Sina Finance, a Chinese microblog service provider's financial news website, according news reports and CPJ research.

According to CPJ research, China is consistently one of the world's worst jailers of journalists.

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