China: Provincial governor threatens questioning reporter

Lianghui is in full swing, and media continue to find creative ways to report on the latest developments.

Journalists present at the meetings don't get many opportunities to interview higher-up representatives or committee members. A chance yesterday to put questions to governor of Hubei province Li Hongzhong ended for one reporter when he responded to hers by threatening to complain to her boss; below is constitutional lawyer and blogger Liu Xiaoyuan's post on what took place, borrowing heavily from blogger and Southern Media Group journalist Shi Feike:


According to word on the Sina microblogs, on March 7 the delegation of Hubei representatives held an open group meeting. A pack of reporters flooded in. After the meeting wrapped up, Hubei governor Li Hongzhong stepped into the VIP hall to be interviewed for a CCTV feature. While the program was being filmed, reporters from different media waited on the sidelines. When that wrapped up, their interviews immediately began. When the question from China Business News was answered, and the question from Xinhua News Agency was answered, the governor waxed eloquent on the many attractive features of Hubei province, its stellar economic growth.


Then the workers began trying to clear a path for the governor to leave. One reporter from Beijing Times hurriedly asked: Governor, what are your thoughts on Deng Yujiao? Li Hongzhong became enraged, and his face went cloudy in 0.1 seconds flat as he scowled at this reporter. He looked at the pen recorder and the hands holding it and, moving subtly but firmly, grabbed hold of them. He then stormed out into the hall. At the main door, Li stopped and asked furiously of this reporter, “which media are you from?” “I'm from People's Daily” (note: Beijing Times is a commercial paper affiliate of People's Daily). “And you're a Party paper! This isn't how a Party paper handles opinion guidance! I'm going to your publisher!!” And then without looking back, Li Hongzhong went to the elevator and back to his room. The reporters standing around looked on, dumbfounded. Reportedly, at this time, this female reporter began to tear up, feeling hurt.


Reporters at the scene have gone on to reveal that, perhaps out of worry that recording of Governor Li Hongzhong's lapse would leak out, workers from the Hubei provincial government office grabbed this reporter's pen recorder, and whether or not it has been returned is unknown. (via Shi Feike's blog)

Toward the end of the post, Liu himself writes:


For a governor to lose composure and treat a reporter like this, accosting a reporter for their ‘handling of opinion guidance'; Li Hongzhong's behavior as such is similar to last year's incident in which Lu Jun questioned a reporter, ‘who do you speak for?’. For a provincial governor to treat a reporter just as outrageously, what's lost is not just official composure, but public morality as well.

In the Shi Feike post linked to by Liu, there's this audio recording of the altercation between Li and the reporter. Regarding the incident, Phoenix Television news editor and reporter Rose Luqiu Luwei wrote today on Twitter:


I just spoke with the journalist who got chewed out by Li Hongzhong. She's okay, her superior doesn't feel she did anything wrong. People find it strange that someone would get so worked up, because Deng Yujiao isn't a sensitive issue. As for those saying she “deceived”, Beijing Times is in fact a child paper of People's Daily; when these reporters head out for interviews, they'll often identify themselves as from the People's Daily newspaper group, it helps secure interviews. Otherwise, provincial magnates would just ignore a local newspaper like this.


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