County head says sorry to re­porters

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YI zhang_yi@chi­

The top of­fi­cial in Gan­nan county in Hei­long jiang prov­ince has made a pub­lic apol­ogy to two jour­nal­ists who were beaten up while do­ing un­der­cover re­port­ing in the county.

The apol­ogy came af­ter Liu Bozhi and Liu Dun, jour­nal­ists from China Ed­u­ca­tion Daily, were roughed up by lo­cal po­lice while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the food pro­gram at a mid­dle school in Gan­nan county on Fri­day.

Wang Shuwei, the Party chief of Gan­nan, said dur­ing an in­ter­view with China Ed­u­ca­tion Net­work Tele­vi­sion on Sun­day that he “feels guilty for the in­ci­dent” and of­fered pro­found apolo­gies to the two jour­nal­ists, their fam­i­lies and their work­place.

“I have an in­escapable re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­ci­dent and it re­vealed a lack of proper man­age­ment of our cadres,” Wang said, adding that the county au­thor­ity will step up train­ing for po­lice of­fi­cers.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing an anony­mous tip that the county’s school can­teens were con­tracted to a pri­vate com­pany that may profit from the sub­sidy pro­gram, the re­porters went to a lo­cal mid­dle school, but were taken to a po­lice sta­tion, ac­cord­ing to China Ed­u­ca­tion Daily. Liu Dun suf­fered a head in­jury and Liu Bozhi’s hand was in­jured.

The re­porters dis­cov­ered that schools in Gan­nan charge more for food than schools in other coun­ties, and stu­dents are forced to put 300 yuan ($43) on their food cards even when they don’t eat in the can­teen. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties also turned a blind eye to the fact that the can­teens were con­tracted to pri­vate com­pa­nies, al­though it was for­bid­den in 2011.

Wang said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the nu­tri­tious meals pro­gram was car­ried out.

“The Gan­nan Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China will co­op­er­ate with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion group from a higher level au­thor­ity and all prob­lems shall be thor­oughly dis­cussed,” he said.

“A com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of su­per­vi­sion, in­spec­tion and man­age­ment will be es­tab­lished to make sure there is no cor­rup­tion in­volved in the nu­tri­tious meals pro­gram,” Wang said.

The in­ci­dent was not an iso­lated one for jour­nal­ists.

Ac­cord­ing to Peo­ple’s Daily, re­porters from He­nan Tele­vi­sion were beaten up in Novem­ber last year by se­cu­rity guards at a con­struc­tion site where two work­ers died in a fire. Po­lice at the scene or­dered the guards to grab the video from one of the re­porters and smashed it.

Wei Jie, a lawyer at Jieqiang Law Firm in Bei­jing, said he hoped gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the pro­tec­tion of jour­nal­ists’ rights could be more spe­cific to reg­u­late all par­ties in­volved.

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