Wanda Group files defamation suits against social media accounts on WeChat and Weibo
Dalian Wanda Group said it has taken legal action in China and is considering legal action through US courts in relation to what it says are false reports and “malicious rumors” related to company founder and chairman Wang Jianlin.
The company said in a statement on its website on Wednesday that it had filed suit on Tuesday, without specifying details of the offensive comments.
“Regarding the malicious rumors that have recently been fabricated and spread with respect to the Chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, Mr. Wang Jianlin, Wanda has filed lawsuits against the responsible rumormongers on Sept. 5th in Chinese courts holding the proper jurisdiction, and the courts have accepted the lawsuits.”
The defendants include at least 10 social media accounts on WeChat and Weibo.
Wanda said it wants each account to issue “a public apology and provide Wanda with compensation of 5 million yuan”. The company said that it will also press criminal charges against those whose behaviour constituted a defamation by spreading the rumours.
The company cited judicial interpretations from the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate that defamation involves postings on the internet that have received 5,000 clicks or generated more than 500 reposts.
Wanda also said it is considering filing a lawsuit in US courts against Boxun, an overseas website which covers political news on China, seeking an apology and compensation of US$2 million.
Sun Hongbin, chairman of Chinese homebuilder Sunac, on Wednesday wrote a comment on its personal WeChat account to support Wang Jianlin, while sharing an articled entitled “Please give more tolerance towards Wang Jianlin”.
He credited Wanda’s commercial property arm with creating 2 million jobs and contributing 40 billion yuan in tax to the Chinese government.
“Wang Jianlin is my most respected entrepreneur, ” Sun said.
Sunac bought 13 theme parks from troubled Wanda two months earlier.
Wanda’s Hong Kong-listed shares and US-dollar bonds fell sharply last month after Wang was said to have been detained by police at the Tianjin airport as he was about to leave China on a private jet.
That event followed revelations that Wanda had sold 77 of its hotels and 13 theme parks to two rival Chinese developers in July, in a US$9.5 billion deal to raise funds to pare debt as it faced heightened scrutiny on its debt-fuelled overseas shopping spree.
“Some people with malicious motives have been spreading fake rumours about chairman Wang Jianlin,” Wanda said in a statement on August 29, and posted a photo of Wang meeting with Elliot Hill, president of Nike Global Marketing, at Wanda’s headquarters, as evidence of his personal safety.
Wang, the 62-year-old founder of Wanda, ranked as China’s wealthiest businessman from 2015 to 2017, according to Forbes.
His entertainment-to-property empire is among several Chinese groups under close scrutiny by the central government amid a clampdown on companies using leverage to acquire overseas assets ahead of the Communist Party’s leadership selection this autumn.
Wanda’s acquisitions since 2012 have included the world’s largest cinema chain, a luxury yacht builder, a Spanish football club, a Hollywood studio, and the global franchise of the Ironman Triathlon races.