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China 15 December 2008

A second reporter arrested after investigating suspected corruption in Shanxi province

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the arrest of Guan Jian, a reporter with the Beijing-based weekly Wangluo Bao (Network News), while investigating allegedly corrupt real estate transactions in Taiyuan, the capital of the northern province of Shanxi. Guan was arrested on 1 December and has been held incommunicado ever since.

It is the second case this month of a journalist being arrested as a result of reporting on alleged abuse of authority and corruption in Shanxi. CCTV reporter Li Min has been held since 4 December. 

“Abuse of authority by local officials is common in this region, which is biggest source of coal in China and is riddled with corruption,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is becoming increasingly dangerous for journalists to investigate corruption allegations involving officials. We urge the central government to investigate these cases and punish those who are really guilty.”

Beijing News quoted Shanxi Public Security Department sources as saying Guan has himself been charged with corruption. He was arrested at a Taiyuan hotel by police officers from Zhangjiakou in the neighbouring province of Hebei. Video footage recorded by the hotel’s security camera shows him being forcibly taken away in a car by five men.

Guan, 49, went to Taiyuan at the end of November to investigate allegations of illegal land transactions involving a real estate company and local officials. Wangluo Bao has not named the company but it is reportedly headed by the deputy director of the Shanxi People’s Congress.

Wangluo Bao editor Ren Pengyu said to Beijing news he has had no contact with Guan since a call a few hours before he went missing in which he said he had just had a good interview.

Guan’s son Guan Yufei told the Reuters news agency he had not had news of his father since his abduction. “His friends couldn’t reach him, his colleagues couldn’t either,” he told Reuters. “At first we thought he had just gone on a reporting trip, but then after several days when he still wasn’t in touch, we got worried.”

Guan Yufei went to Taiyuan to look for his father but, aside from the hotel security camera footage, came back empty-handed.

CCTV reporter Li Min was arrested at her Beijing home on 4 December by four policemen who had been sent from Shanxi province by Shanxi prosecutor He Shusheng, whom Li had accused of abuse of authority in a report broadcast by CCTV. Like Guan, Li has herself been accused of corruption.

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