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12:13 PM, Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Television newscaster replaced on air for criticising corrupt government officials
In a move that has drawn criticism from Weibo’s outspoken microblogging community, the host of a Chinese online news show was interrupted and replaced on air today for criticising government officials.
The presenter behind the incident was Cui Jianbin of Longshang Channel, an online news show focused on agricultural news and sponsored by Hubei Television.
Cui was originally presenting a report on government officials who had built a luxury office building in Hubei’s Fangxian county – an area eligible for state poverty relief.
After finishing the report, Cui began speaking freely, vehemently criticising “wasteful and corrupt” officials who spent extravagant amounts of money despite the struggles of average citizens.
Cui’s tirade was interrupted, presumably by a staff member off-screen, and after asking out loud if he could finish speaking, Cui stormed off stage.
The original broadcast of the clip, which appeared online this afternoon, cuts to an advert after Cui leaves the stage and has another reporter continue the broadcast with an unrelated news item afterwards.
The clip was ironically uploaded to Sina Video and posted on a Weibo account with the name “Jianghan News Network”. The account is seemingly run by a fellow journalist at Hubei Television’s Longshang Channel, but Postrequests for confirmation went unanswered today.
Sina Video has since deleted the clip, although it can still be found online in its entirety on other video sharing websites.
News of the clip quickly began trending on Weibo, with netizens claiming that cutting Cui’s speech was “an obvious case of censorship”. A Weibo hashtagdiscussing the incident attracted over three hundred microbloggers by mid-afternoon, and others began posting “Please let Cui Jianbin finish” as comments on Longshang Channel’s official Weibo page.
“This is the power of public opinion,” wrote one netizen in support of Cui. “Unfortunately, the media does not allow such fierce rhetoric to spread to the people, because the media has become…a tool and a propaganda mouthpiece.”
“Many children’s schools [in Hubei] are under renovation, but the [government officials] have money to go and build fancy offices?” another asked. “Those who have a conscience and a sense of responsibility should not allow such rampant corruption!”
Other Weibo commentators were not as sympathetic and argued that Cui’s tirade was unprofessional.
“The host of a programme like this needs to avoid uncontrollable emotions getting the better of him,” wrote one blogger. “[Cui] lost his objective and impartial professionalism, so it’s only natural that the television network would need to temporarily substitute [another reporter] for him.”
Both Cui and Hubei Television were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.