Monday, April 15, 2013

State Media Publishes Editorial on Relationship Between Censorship and Ex-Railways Minister Liu Zhijun's Corruption

On January 28, 2011, the state-sponsored Caixin Magazine published an article entitled "Successful Shanxi Rail Magnate Under Scrutiny." Some excerpts:
Ding Shumiao is a successful businesswoman, celebrated philanthropist and so well-connected that more than 400 central government and Communist Party leaders attended a huge Spring Festival celebration in early 2010 sponsored by her coal-railway-advertising conglomerate.
. . . .
Caixin learned from several sources that authorities in Beijing are probing Ding. Whether police agencies are involved is unclear. Neither is it certain whether her high-level network of personal connections may offer a degree of protection.
Ding, 55, is also a member of the Shanxi Province branch of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
After Ding came under an investigative cloud, several sources expressed concern about her "complicated" connections to top officials. Some said the case "may involve something much bigger."
. . . .
But questions have swirled around her successful enterprise Shanxi Jinhande, whose name was recently change to CREC Taikete Environmental Engineering Co. Ltd., and which has won lucrative contracts to supply noise barriers that line China's high-speed railway tracks.
Investigators are apparently looking into Jinhande's previous deals related to several major railway projects.
. . . .
In 2008, Jinhande won the bid for China's first express railway project – Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway. CREC and Jinhande submitted winning bids for the line's noise barrier as well as barriers for a Hefei-Wuhan railway. The contracts were worth a combined 836 million yuan.
On April 11, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Ex-Railway Minister Charged." An excerpt:
Liu Zhijun, the former minister of railways, was charged with bribe-taking and abuse of power on Wednesday, more than two years after the controversial figure was removed from his post. 
The Second Branch of the Beijing People's Procuratorate Wednesday filed the charges against Liu with the Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court. The court has accepted the case and will set a trial date, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 
Liu, 60, had been under investigation for serious disciplinary violations since February 2011, when he was dismissed from the post. He was stripped of his Communist Party of China membership in May 2012.
The same day the state-sponsored Economic Observer published an editorial entitled "How Liu Zhijun Was Able to Get Away With it For So Long" (我们的社会盛产刘志军式的奇葩).  Some excerpts:
Liu’s story is the result of a twisted political environment that’s generated, and will continue to generate, such incredible cases.  
In the absence of democratic elections, Chinese officials turn to nepotism. This means if they want to get promoted, they’ll look to a higher official rather than the people they’re responsible for. They’ll also forge political alliances that will come in handy when the heat is on. 
. . . . 
So why was Liu so lucky? It was because he had very high level protection. 
The media had the least freedom to talk about the rail system during Liu’s term. Several journalists from CCTV told me that authorities banned all criticism of the Ministry of Railways. One example was when many scholars and experts recommended a real name ticket booking system in order to crack down on ticket scalping. However, the Ministry of Railways banned discussion not only within its own system, but also in mainstream media. 
I once personally published an article entitled “Five Reasons That Liu Zhijun Should Take Blame and Resign.” It was deleted on major web portals without explanation. I later found out that Liu had directed his subordinates to buy over journalists and build “cooperation” with mainstream media, as well as work with other departments to bury criticism.
This screenshot was taken in 2011, and shows a series of posts from 2010 on a China-based forum entitled "Application to Block an ID." The first post notes that the forum has already deleted a post entitled "What is the Connection Between Jinhande Environmental Equipment Company and a Billionheiress?" (金汉德环保设备公司与百亿女富豪的关系?) and asks another post from the same user entitled "Shanxi Jinhande Company --- Fears That 2.3 Billion Tender for Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway Sound Barriers Was Illegal" (山西金汉德公司---23亿京沪高铁声屏障恐将非法招标) be deleted, and that the user's account be shut down.

The second post replies: "Thank you Manager, this has already been taken care of."
These screenshots were taken on February 13, 2011, and show that, while searches for "Fears That Tender for High Speed Railway Sound Barriers Was Illegal" (高铁声屏障恐将非法招标) on returned no results, the same search on returned four results.

These screenshots show that Baidu stopped censoring search results for "Liu Zhijun" (刘志军) some time between February 14 and March 28, 2011. Prior to that, Baidu was restricting search results to state-run media outlets and large web sites licensed by the PRC government.

These screenshots were taken on April 15, 2013, and show that Baidu continues to ban users from establishing PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forums on Liu Zhijun.