Chinese Journalist Cheng Yizhong Awarded UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

April 13, 2005

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named Cheng Yizhong as the laureate of the 2005 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. According to UNESCO, the award was given to Cheng based on the recommendation of an independent jury of media professionals from all over the world:

As editor of Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) Mr Cheng, 40, broke new ground in Chinese journalism. His editorial independence and professional know-how helped turn his paper into one of the most successful dailies in the country, publishing articles revealing the SARS epidemic and a case of death in a Canton police station.

UNESCO quoted Cheng as saying: “I feel very relieved and comforted, but I also feel sad. All we have done is act according to our conscience. Unfortunately we have had to pay a price for following our conscience.” Cheng was expelled from the Communist Party in October 2004. Chinese authorities had detained Cheng earlier that year, along with the Southern Metropolitan Daily's former deputy editor-in-chief and Southern Group general manager Yu Huafeng and former Southern Metropolitan Daily editor Li Minying. Cheng was released after five months without having been charged. Yu and Li are currently serving prison sentences of 8 and 6 years, respectively. Authorities alleged the detentions related to economic crimes, but Western media has cited sources in the Communist Party as saying the arrests were in retaliation for the Southern Metropolitan Daily's "aggressive reporting" on SARS and government corruption.