Reporter whose work sparked political scandal in B.C. jailed in China for online comment | #socialmedia


VANCOUVER—A former Chinese journalist whose reporting led to a political scandal in Canada has been sentenced to seven months in jail for comments he made online regarding a patriotic film about Chinese soldiers during the Korean War.

Luo Changping was sentenced this week for comments he made in October mocking the film “The Battle at Lake Changjin” on the Chinese social media site, Weibo.

“Half a century later, Chinese people still rarely reflect on the injustice of this war, just as the brainwashed idiots back then would never doubt the ‘wise decision’ of the top leader,” Luo wrote in internet slang on his Weibo account, referencing Chinese soldiers in the film who froze to death.

He soon deleted the comment, but it had already been viewed by more than 22,000 people, according to China’s state-run broadcaster, CCTV.

Luo was arrested in his hometown of Sanya in southern China and sentenced to jailtime for “violating the reputation and honour of national martyrs,” and forced to make a number of public apologies, CCTV reported.

In 2018, China passed a law making it illegal to disparage the country’s “heroes and martyrs,” and the 1950-53 Korean War is often used to spur nationalism in the country.

It was Luo’s reporting that exposed the corruption of Chinese top federal energy official Liu Tienan, which made international headlines. The reporting included allegations of bank fraud involving the purchase of the Skeena pulp mill in Prince Rupert, B.C., with businessman, Ni Ritao.

The matter soon reached the halls of power in Victoria, B.C.

A reporting team overseen by Luo at Caijing Magazine in 2011 wrote a series of stories accusing Ni of corruption in China, including revelations Liu’s wife owned a 10 per cent share of Ni’s Prince Rupert venture, which involved an attempt to secure a loan with fraudulent documents for the project. Liu was not named in the initial articles.

In 2012, the Globe and Mail reported then provincial employment minister Pat Bell had forwarded an internal government email including one of the articles to Bill Belsey, at the time the BC Liberal party vice-president who had worked as a consultant for Ni.

Luo then struck again in late 2012, with more reporting on his blog that revealed Liu was a government official involved in the 2011 scandal and had been involved in trying to fraudulently secure the loan, among other serious allegations.

Liu was found guilty of accepting bribes and other crimes by Chinese authorities and sentenced to life in prison in 2014. Ni was incarcerated for two years in China over a separate bribery case, according to a 2017 Business in Vancouver article.

The matter was in the news again as it emerged that Andrew Wilkinson, then a provincial legislature candidate who would go on to become the Liberal party leader years later, was once Ni’s lawyer in his case against Prince Rupert after the city expropriated the mill for not paying its taxes. The case dragged on for years and the latest appeal by Ni was abandoned, according to the city.

Luo received an Integrity Award from Transparency International for his work on the larger Liu story and since then had moved on from journalism to running a media company. But the sentence has once again thrust him into the spotlight.

The prison sentence for the comment was called a “petty” move by Sophie Richardson, the China Director of Human Rights Watch.

“Are other movie critics going to jail now too?” Richardson asked. “It’s an opinion about a movie, for God’s sake.”

China’s own laws claim to guarantee free speech, she argued.

She said the harsh reaction to a simple online comment about a film raises questions about the concerns and priorities of the Chinese government.

“I think it’s a bit of a telltale sign of really paranoid government,” she said, “not one that has confidence in its laws and its courts to not actually make a distinction between inflammatory speech or a speech that actually does somehow compromise national security.”

With a file from The Associated Press

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.





Original Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

8 + two =