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Chinese journalists attacked by profiteers in Hainan

Southern Daily front page 17 july 2013

Journalists from the Nanguo Metropolis Daily 南国都市报 from Hainan went yesterday to investigate claims of fraudulent activities by a company in Hainan. They emerged with only a few scratches to their cameras, but their colleague from Hainan Live TV was not so fortunate, sustaining injuries to his face and hands after being beaten up when attempting to record an interview at the company’s offices.

Today the front page of the Nanguo Metropolis Daily from Hainan published a large picture of the fallen journalist with a headline screaming, “Journalists mobbed during interview.”

The story started on 16 July when a certain Ms Zheng, who works for a company based in the city of Haikou, reported a tip to the Nanguo Metropolis Daily after she was duped into buying a false domain name. Zheng’s company had received an invitation, first by fax and later by phone, to a meeting of experts on commercial management best practice.  As her boss was out of town, Ms Zheng went in his place.

After the “experts” at the meeting had concluded their speeches, Ms Zheng found herself surrounded by “seven or eight” men, who demanded that she take part in their “investment plan.” They wanted her to spend 4,000 yuan out of her own pocket to buy up a domain name related to real estate and travel. Zheng did not want to take part in this scheme, so she said that she did not have any money with her, and that her bank card did not have the requisite 4,000 yuan. But the men talked her into a daze and in the end she handed over her bank card, and they used a POS machine to extract 5,000 yuan from her account in return for the domain name.

Ms Zheng subsequently found out that the company which had forcibly sold her the domain name was actually called Yunzhi Information Technology, and based in Haikou. Zheng’s manager contacted the company and demanded that they return the money, but Yunzhi refused to do so. Zheng then contacted the Nanguo Metropolis Daily.

Immediately after the tip came in, journalists from the Nanguo Metropolis Daily as well as South Sea Online 南海网 and Hainan Live TV 直播海南 rushed to Yunzhi, who refused requests for an interview. This is when things escalated. One manager rushed over and blocked Hainan Live TV cameras. He then snatched the camera off the Hainan TV cameraman, and pushed him to the ground before brandishing his fist and punching the unfortunate man in the face.  The manager then made off with the camera, before coming back, still carrying the camera and shouting at the journalists, “This company does not permit photography, and we don’t want any gossip going around about us!”

Eventually, police intervened. Confronted with evidence of injuries to the cameraman and damage to cameras, the manager of Yunzhi claimed that he too had been hit. When the journalists demanded that he show his injuries, this well-dressed man was unable to do so. It also emerged that one staff writer for the Nanguo Metropolis Daily had attempted to contact the police earlier on, but had been blocked from leaving Yunzhi’s offices, located in a residential building, by a man who had said fiercely, “Coming and going as you please? It’s not as easy as that!”

The Superintendent of Haikou’s Longhua district, who had rushed over to the Jinmao police station when he heard what was going on, said that they “will certainly administer severe punishment for impeding interviews and beating up journalists.” Whether or not this case goes to court, the incident appears to have spelled the end for Yunzhi Information Technology. Any trace of the company online has vanished, according to Nanguo Metropolis Daily journalists.

Links and sources
Nanguo Metropolis Daily (南国都市报): 大肆行骗?猖狂至极!