After having moved to Shanghai, I see myself step by step slowly changing into a journalist. If there is one man I would like to become, then it would be Wang Ke Qin.
Wang is the chief journalist of China Economic Times now and is one of a kind unlike other ‘journalists’ in town that hold Marxist views. Some say Wang is the Chinese version of muckraker Lincoln Stiffens due to several big exposés by him including the recent ‘Shanxi vaccine scandal’.
(“Many people will know who Li Ke Qing is (a popular Hong Kong singer), but only a few will know Wang Ke Qin and the Ministry of Health of Shanxi will surely get away” said Li Cheng Peng the famous football commentator and journalist when commenting on the Shanxi vaccine scandal.)
Chinese Media is always strongly controlled by the government with the slogan of ‘Emphasizing positive news’ and ‘The Good of Society Before All Else’, so I was always surprised to see Wang’s stories getting published. Yet, the people exposed easily get away and the muckraker who exposed them often ends badly.
There were some underground stock markets in Lanzhou in 2001 controlled by the local Mafia and protected by the Lanzhou government which did not have legal agreements and licenses to run. By downloading stock data from the Internet and showing them on the big screen for investors, they successfully fooled hundreds of people to use them as agency to buy and sell stock shares where all the money was routed directly into their own pockets.
A text message including his home address and the message “We are going kidnap your daughter and wife from your home.” was sent to Wang on the 7th Feb 2001, 5 days after his new story about the underground stock market got published. A few hours later he received another call informing him that the Mafia is willing to pay five million RMB for his life. Wang had to ask the police to protect his family. ”I have four police officers staying with me and my family for protection.”
This was only the beginning of the bad luck. ”My colleague told me over the phone that I had gotten fired again.” Wang lost his job one month after the Southern-eastern newspaper published his new scoop of ‘the dark side of voting for bad men’ which exposed Ding Xi village’s officials abusing their power and forcing the villagers to vote for bad men in the town. Every village needed to vote for some ‘bad men’ depending on the population of the village. The Governor mandated the village’s population to vote for more than 5 percent representation of ‘bad men’ and beat or arrested those who failed to fill that quota.
”I was shocked when I saw hundreds of farmers kneel down in front of me and said to myself that you must find out what is behind this.” When Wang went to the town for the second time, he had to dress like a farmer and hide his camera and voice recorder in a bag full of straw to get though three blocks as some officers had gotten news of Wang coming to investigate them and thus hired the local mafia to look out for him.
Thank God the Chinese Economic is brave enough to accept him to be their chef journalist after he got fired and that they published his new expose on the Shanxi vaccine scandal as it was really bad quality and some children becoming physically disabled or even dying as a result.
Just right after the Shanxi vaccine scandal went public, China’s biggest and state-run news agency Xin Hua published an article written by a “journalist” from the Xin Hua Shanxi branch’ denying the authenticity of Wang’s story and backing up the Ministry of Health of Shanxi. Half a month has passed since the scandal was exposed, but the government hasn’t taken any action besides covering and hiding. Thousands of children are still being administered the vaccine with continued side effects and China is still too “special” to be shaken by the muckraker.
*Muckraker: a term coined by Theodore Roosevelt and which describes individuals who seeks to expose corruption of businesses or government to the public.
March 31, 2010 at 1:31 am Comments (0)