|Guangzhou tabloid demands release of journalist held for reporting troubles at HK-listed Zoomlion
A newspaper in China published a front-page call for police to free a journalist detained after reporting “financial problems'' at a partly state-owned company, in a rare example of media defying authorities.
The New Express tabloid, based in Guangzhou, carried the full-page editorial under the headline “Please release our man'' in oversized stark black print, AFP reports.
Its journalist Chen Yongzhou was held on Friday by police on “suspicion of damaging business reputation'' after he reported “financial problems'' at Zoomlion, a giant engineering company. It trades in Hong Kong under the ticker 1157.
The company is about 20 percent owned by the state, and is also listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange. It is a major tax contributor to Changsha city in the neighboring province of Hunan.
“We are a small newspaper, but we have the backbone no matter how poor we are,'' said the editorial, adding it was “ashamed'' for not having spoken out earlier due to fears that Chen might be maltreated.
Police were also looking for the paper's economic news director, who has been “hiding out'' for several days, the editorial said.
Chen accused Zoomlion of providing fraudulent accounting figures such as inflated profit data, according to a posting on the newspaper's account on Sina Weibo.
Zoomlion and its subsidiaries earned more than 12 billion yuan in profits and tax revenues last year, according to the company's website.
China's media are tightly controlled by the government and it is rare for an outlet to openly confront the authorities.
It is not the first time that journalists from the New Express, which targets middle class readers, have been detained by police.
In August, a reporter with the newspaper surnamed Liu was taken away by police after he posted accusations online against a former senior official in Chongqing, the megacity in southwestern China.