SHANGHAI - A Shanghai-based business reporter is wanted by the police in East China's Zhejiang province after he exposed insider trading in a listed firm in the region.
Qiu Ziming, an employee of the Beijing-based Economic Observer, a Chinese business weekly, has been on a national online list of wanted criminals by the public security bureau of Suichang county since July 23, on grounds that his reports "contained false information" and "allegedly damaged a company's reputation", Wang Shengzhong, editor-in-chief of the weekly, told China Daily on Wednesday.
In the latest text message on Sina.com's microblogging service, or China's version of Twitter, Qiu, who is still dodging the police, said on Wednesday that he had written nothing wrong in his news reports and that he had sound evidence to prove backdoor trading in the listed Zhejiang Kan Specialty Material Co Ltd, a paper manufacturing company located in Suichang county in Lishui city.
He said he was aware of the potential risks of being located by the police after his online post, but added that he was not afraid, because he only revealed the truth.
He also said company officials had tried to bribe him and the newspaper to withhold the news, but were refused.
From June 5 to July 24, Qiu published four reports disclosing the listed company's related transactions and how its chief had embezzled State-owned assets during the reform of the company, which was once owned by the government.
In fact, Qiu is not the first journalist to expose insider trading at the company. Yang Haipeng, a reporter from Caijing Magazine, also said in his microblog that he had been tipped off with the information weeks before Qiu's reports.
However, Tian Zhiqiang, the company secretary, insisted the reports are false and that the company would cooperate with the local police to hunt for Qiu.
Police in Lishui also responded on Wednesday that they had gone through legal procedures to place Qiu under a national wanted list, according to a local news portal.
The Economic Observer, however, defended Qiu's innocence by issuing a statement, saying it believed Qiu had "abided by the principles of objective and fair reporting".
The statement condemned the use of public power to suppress public opinion and threaten the personal safety of media workers and said that local public security organs should prudently and legally exercise their power in order to protect the rights of civilians.
It also said the newspaper had lodged complaints with the General Administration of Press and Publication of the People's Republic of China, the All-China Journalists Association and other organizations, in a bid to call for action to safeguard the legitimate rights of journalists in their reporting and protect their personal safety.
"It's horrible to think that justice and equality are missing in our society, since reporters are not encouraged to report objectively," said Wang.
"The media has the right to supervise the disclosure of information about public companies," he said, while calling for better protection of Chinese reporters who are often subjected to threats and intimidation after exposing scandals.
Zhou Ze, a Beijing-based lawyer, said it is illegal for Suichang public security bureau to put Qiu on the wanted list.
"It's an abuse of power and a violation of the Criminal Procedure Law. The police cannot order Qiu's arrest without verifying the truth of his reports," he said.
Recent media reports said journalists from CCTV were beaten earlier this month when they reported that local officials were constructing villas in an area meant for a reservoir in Shanxi province.
Relatives of reporters from China Business News and China Youth Daily who together disclosed the wastewater leak of Zijin Mining Group, were also injured in car crashes earlier this week.