Magazine closed a month for criticising power giant

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 May, 2010, 12:00am

A mainland magazine has been closed temporarily for publishing a story criticising the state-owned electricity giant.

Business Watch Magazine, a Beijing-based biweekly, said in a statement posted on its website last week that it had been ordered to suspend publication from April 30 to May 30 for breaking 'propaganda discipline' in a report on the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) in its March 5 edition.

The statement said it was blamed for exposing information - which was supposed to be only for 'internal reference', meaning within government or government-backed institutions - and inaccurate reporting, which had 'caused negative impact for its disclosure of the state grid's internal reference content', and which 'harms the legitimate rights and interests of the relevant authorities'.

The Beijing-based magazine Caijing also revealed that Business Watch Magazine was blamed for 'criticising the leaders of the SGCC'.

Business Watch Magazine, founded in 2000 and based in Beijing, has been in trouble before. It was closed for two months in 2004 for publishing a report on former central bank governor Dai Xianglong .

In its statement, it accepted the punishment and apologised to readers for the absence of the next edition of the magazine on May 20.

Caijing itself ran into trouble more than three years ago for a report criticising state-owned electricity companies. In January 2007, cyber-links to an article Caijing had written on Luneng, a power company based in Shandong , were ordered to be deleted from all mainland portals and major news websites.

A Beijing-based journalist, who has close relations with Business Watch Magazine and talked to its editor-in-chief yesterday, said he did not think the punishment this time was a big deal. 'It was just a one-month halt; they had just offended some relevant power,' the journalist said.

The 25,000-word report on the SGCC, titled 'State Grid Empire', cited the internal reference edition of China Industry News, a publication run by the government-backed China Machinery Industry Federation, and interviewed federation officials and electricity experts, who accused the SGCC of ambition to monopolise not only the country's power grid business but also manufacturing industries making relevant facilities for the grids.

An official with the federation's general office told Business Watch Magazine that it had reported to the State Council about SGCC's ambition in July, urging senior leaders to stop the giant's advance into new territories.

But higher level management were divided on the issue: the National Development and Reform Commission supported the federation, while the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission backed the SGCC.

At the end of 2005, the SGCC had total assets of 1.18 trillion yuan (HK$1.34 trillion) and was ranked 40th in the Fortune Global 500 in that year, according to the official statement posted on its website.




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