County head says sorry to reporters
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.