Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Chinese prosecutors detain news anchor in graft crackdown

Reuters, BEIJING

Prosecutors detained a top Chinese news anchor shortly before a nightly broadcast, state media reported, as authorities extend anticorruption efforts deeper into the country’s media industry.

Rui Chenggang (芮成鋼), the popular host of financial news programs on China Central Television (CCTV), was taken from his studio on Friday, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, said on Twitter on Saturday night.

Rui’s detention, alongside that of network vice director of financial news Li Yong (李勇), comes a little more than a month after officials announced an investigation into suspected bribery by his boss, CCTV’s advertising director and director-general of its finance and economics channel, Guo Zhenxi (郭振璽).

The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since the appointment last year of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who has said widespread graft threatens the party’s survival.

An indication of the suddenness of Rui’s detention, a second microphone appeared on the set of Friday night’s Economic News broadcast, though it was anchored only by Rui’s co-host, the financial news site Caixin.com reported.

“Rui Chenggang was directly taken away from CCTV by authorities last night [Friday] and no notice was given at the time to the program,” Caixin cited an unnamed CCTV employee as saying.

Rui, 36, is one of China’s most prominent business journalists, whose strongly nationalist stances and controversial remarks have helped make him a celebrity.

His prominence in China grew in 2007, after his comments on a Starbucks located in Beijing’s ancient Forbidden City helped spur a public outcry that led the coffee chain to close the branch.

Rui’s Sina microblog, on which he has more than 10 million followers, was still accessible yesterday and some CCTV Web pages still contained his biographical details.

CCTV could not be immediately reached for comment.

The network is viewed by the government as an enormously influential and useful propaganda tool abroad and at home, where Beijing keeps a tight rein on domestic media.

Xinhua news agency reported over the weekend that inspectors said they had had found graft in construction and land projects in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

It also said that a senior party official from Yunnan Province, Zhang Tianxin (張田欣), had been removed from his post for suspected discipline violations, a euphemism for corruption.

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