Hainan sex scandal reporter loses job due to alleged government pressure

Reporter says he received "all kinds of threats from government officials"

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 6:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 7:16pm

A reporter involved in exposing details of a Hainan child sex scandal claims he is being forced out of the province’s media industry as a result of pressure from government officials.

Reporter Yang Qiongwen, who previously worked for the South Island Evening News, a local Hainan newspaper, was the first to break the story of a Hainan Wanning city schoolmaster who was arrested in connection with the sexual assault of six primary school girls.

On the morning of August 7, Yang posted a message on Tencent Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging service. In the message, he explained that Hainan officials were pressuring him to leave the local media business.

“From the day after I reported the news of the schoolmaster’s activities, I always expected that the government might look for various excuses to make me leave the Hainan media industry,” Yang wrote. “Today, I have finally been proven right.”

Yang, who said on his Weibo page that “journalism was his life,” added that he had only been doing what his job required.

“In this particular matter, I’ve just used one Chinese person’s conscience and the natural morals of a reporter to guide me and write up the facts,” Yang said. “But I’ve also received all kinds of pressure and threats from government officials, finally to the extent that now I am pressured to leave my job.”

Yang, who wrote a series of articles on the scandal, did not respond to immediate requests for comment. However, there have been more than 10,000 responses to his message on Tencent Weibo, with many saying that he “did the right thing”.

“You are brave,” one poster, a student from Guangdong, wrote in response to Yang. “This is your career and you did what you had to do. For the Wanning local government, I can only say that their corruption is their own failure. Forcing you to leave reflects what kind of organisation this government is.”

The South Island Evening News confirmed to People’s Daily reporters that Yang would soon leave the paper, but refused to comment further. The newspaper had reportedly been supportive of Yang’s original investigative reports, but had finally given in to demands to sack the reporter after “pressure from [external forces] became too much”.

The case that Yang exposed first made the news on May 13, when both a Wanning city schoolmaster and a government official were arrested for alleged sexual assault. Six Wanning Houlang primary school girls were the victims, and the case underwent various twists after the initial revelation. Province authorities went on to say that the girls had been sexually molested but not raped, and later investigations revealed that one of the victims may have been offered money for sex. Both suspects in the case are currently awaiting trial.