The True Reason for the Heavy Sentencing of Reporter Zi Beijia for His Article "Cardboard Dumplings"

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Mr. Zi Beijia, a 28-year-old reporter for a Beijing TV Station, was recently charged with "fabricating a report" soon after his TV program "Cardboard Dumplings" was aired on "Transparency." The program revealed that certain dumpling makers in China used waste cardboard as dumpling filling. Zi Beijia was sentenced on August 12th, 2007 to one year behind bars at Beijing's No. 2 Intermediate People's Court and fined 1,000 Yuan. The incident has stirred up much controversy. Which one is fake - the "dumplings" or the report?

A major issue revealed through "cardboard dumplings"

The tainted dumpling story was aired on July 8th. Eight days later Zi Beijia was arrested, and a month later he was sentenced. The speed with which China's law enforcement personnel took action aroused much fear and indignation.

I have watched various episodes of the program on the Internet and find that most programs aired in the "Transparency" segment are factual programs that expose food safety problems. In most cases, the residents provide clues that the reporters follow up with. They then reveal the facts of fake food and tell the audience about the dangers involved in such fake food. They also let the audience know how to distinguish between good food and fake or counterfeit food.

There are reports about fake eggs, pulling out duck feathers with the use of repeatedly boiled rosin (a toxic chemical), making filling for frozen dumpling with mutton, lymph glands and pork from animals that did not go through a quarantine check before slaughter; mixing opium poppy shells into hot pots, feeding small lobsters with feces, and so on and so forth.

Viewing these programs makes me think and ponder a question: First, the serious food safety problems in China are truly shocking; any of the news reports mentioned above will make explosive news in the Western media, and their impact is no less than that of "cardboard dumplings." Second, is the news about tainted dumplings really false as the authorities claim?

Some Internet users have already verified that they themselves have come across cardboard-filled dumplings; so, whether or not the report is false still needs deliberation. What we need to know is why action was taken against Zi Beijia while other reports on food safety issues did not suffer the same fate.

The reason [in all likelihood] is this: after the "cardboard dumplings" information came out, the international newswire Associated Press (AP) reported it, and many media around the world reprinted the report or wrote their own report about it. In the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics, Western media has begun to pay more attention to the issue of food safety in China. The "cardboard dumplings" report came out at this sensitive moment and has automatically touched upon China's Communist authorities' taboo on news reporting.

In dealing with Zi Beijia, to downplay the seriousness of the impact, the Chinese Communist regime had on the one hand made him "confess" that he fabricated the story; on the other hand they punished him, as a warning to others: this is what you get if you dare to report "negative news!" This incident makes me acutely sense the difficult situation Chinese media reporters are in, and the pressure those reporters of conscience are facing in China.

Only by removing the Chinese Communist Party can the media return to normalcy

With regard to this incident, China expert Mr. Chen Pokong points out that if they, the Party truly want to crack down on false news reports, they should start with news agencies that are under the direct administration of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) central government. He said, "The CCP's mouthpieces at the highest level, such as the People's Daily, Guangming Daily, People's Liberation Army Daily, China Central TV, Central People's Broadcasting Station are creators of falsified reports. These media are filled with distorted history, fabricated stories, smeared characters and fake and altered pictures in large quantities, year in and year out. If the CCP truly wants to eradicate false news reports, then why don't they start with their own media? Arrest their editors, close down their programs; declare that they are the biggest makers of 'fabricated stories.' If they can do this, media at the lower levels will follow suit. With purging from top to bottom, false news reports will have no place to take root, and false and fake products will have nowhere to hide."

However, can the Chinese Communist regime achieve this? "Pens" and "guns" have always been the two major bases on which the regime depends for its existence. The so-called "pens" refers to the propaganda apparatus, including various forms of media, that constantly fabricate news, glorify the Chinese Communist regime, and incite hatred by stirring up false patriotism. Such fabrications have played a prominent role in the persecution of Falun Gong. The most direct example is the fabricated "Self-immolation at Tiananmen Square" broadcast by the Xinhua News Agency.

Disseminating fabrications and propaganda of all kinds is at the root of the CCP's domination. Only by disintegrating the CCP could the media be returned to normalcy, reporting the facts of the nation and the world to the people rather than Party propaganda.

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