Fact Checking NYT’s Qi Chonghuai Jailed Journalist Story

Recently New York Times published a story on a jailed Chinese journalist Qi Chonghuai, and made some fairly severe, usual allegations (corruption, official misconduct, torture), and a new one – double jeopardy violation in resentencing Qi to more jail time for the crime he served 4 years already, because he vowed to continue to expose official graft.

Since it was written by Andrew Jacobs (someone I consider to be the grand wizard of NYT’s China reporting), and given NYT’s past record of biased reporting when it comes to China, I decided to dig into this story for details that might have been suppressed. Guess what?

1) Let’s get the biggie out of the way – Chinese netters have confirmed Qi Chonghuai was convicted of raping a 10-year old girl in 1986. Does that sound like a righteous crusader to you? It appears Jacobs didn’t bother to look into Qi’s felonious past, only to regurgitate claims made by US government funded group HRIC without questioning their veracity:

2) Jacobs reported Qi Chonghuai’s recent trial constituted violation of double jeopardy. However according to case detail posted by Qi’s defense lawyer, Qi’s recent trial was not based on previously convicted crime, but due to a new victim coming forward earlier this year to report his case of extortion Qi committed in 2006:

On 3/28/2011, Mr. Zhang from a starch factory at Xinzhu Village in Dongguo Town, Tengzhou City, reported a case to Dongguo police. After the factory’s corn silo collapsed on 4/1/2006, a man claimed to be Qi Chonghuai from “China Legal News” came with a partner for an interview, where they threatened to publish an inaccurate story and extorted 4000 RMB from the starch factory.


3) Jacobs also reported Qi Chonghuai was arrested after writing story exposing the lavish government office built by Tengzhou City officials on state-run media. But according to Chinese bloggers familiar with the case, Qi never wrote for any state-run media. Qi merely posted rumors on XinhuaNet and Tanya discussion forums (anyone can register and post) that were subsequently mentioned by the media:

He posted pictures on XinhuaNet forum, exposing the city’s lavish government building


4) Does that sound like a legitmate reporter, posting on discussion forums? According to investigation of the 2007 case, Qi Chonghuau’s only journalist connection is he operated a website chinalegalnews.com that claimed to be connected to a parent site legaldaily.com.cn. However according to Legal Daily website operator Yuan Chenbeng (袁成本), “Legal Daily” folded and became “Legal Daily Weekender” in October 2006, and Qi’s work permit was withdrawn. In another word Jacobs ignored the fact at the time of Qi’s arrest he was at a minimum using expired reporter credential:

Legal Daily did provide Qi Chinghuai with work permit in July 2006, who’s charge was development of China Legal News in Shandong. In October 2006, Legal Daily folded and became Legal Daily Weekender, and Qi’s work permit was withdrawn


5) Even Qi Chonghuai’s defense lawyer admits Qi took money (Qi’s racket was hint at large per-diem in exchange for not starting on-line rumor mongoring campaigns):

The few fees defendant had admitted to, is in reality a form of forced “bribe”


And finally, did the Tengzhou city officials built themselves a lavish office building? According to a 2007 report of the case, Tengzhou official responded that the new city hall actually includes a convention center and corporate office leases. The city hall portion of the mixed-use building is fairly small. The reason a new city hall was built is because the old city hall is being condemned, and the valuable downtown lot was turned over for commercial development:

Regarding the office building, Yue Muxiang from PR department says it’s hardly lavish. It’s only new, Yue says the building may look big, but to accomodate 40 departments, 4-5 people has to tightly squeeze into one office.
Yue says, the former city hall was decrepet and condemned twice already, affecting staff safety. That’s why they were forced to build a new city hall.


By Charles Liu, Hiddenharmonies.com

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