County Government Agency in Guangxi Sues Reporters for Defamation (story in Chinese)

December 8, 2004

The Ziyuan County Government in the Guangxi Zhuang Minority Autonomous Region has sued three reporters for defamation. The government agency filed suit against Li Wan, Tang Zicheng, and Wei Xing, three reporters with the Rural Edition of the Economic Daily in connection with a report entitled "Shenyang to Become a Beggars' Village." According to Xinhua, the agency claims that the report "misled some of the villagers in Shenyang village, brought out contradictions between the government and the masses, led to hundreds of villagers repeatedly petitioning, and influenced the normal working order of the county government." The article in question examined the county government's requisitioning of land from farmers for development. The government claimed that the report contained five "factual errors":

  • The amount of land requisitioned was incorrectly reported;
  • The number of times requests for approval of requisitioning land was incorrectly reported;
  • It was incorrectly reported that the government requisitioned the land and only then made a public announcement, or failed to make any public announcement whatsoever;
  • The report fabricated several characters; and
  • The report used doctored photos.

This suit is the most recent example of a growing trend of government officials suing publishers and reporters for negative reports.