He reportedly has not been seen since the day that Ai Weiwei disappeared, and we can therefore only assume that, being a friend and assistant of Ai Weiwei, was arrested at the same time as him. His ex-colleagues reaction? According to the sources of Richard Burger, a former editor at the Global Times, their response has been to launch an internet astroturfing campaign justifying the arrest of Ai and others:
Richard Burger's piece is excellent and I advise you to go and read it if you haven't already. I particularly agree with this passage:
"Nine days ago, Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of The Global Times, assembled all of the Chinese staff into the paper’s large conference room and shut the door. As is nearly always the case with such meetings, the expats, known as “foreign experts,” were not permitted inside.
Hu had a direct and simple order for his
shock troopsstaff: They were to go to their desks and seek out any Chinese comment threads, any discussions on Chinese BBS’s and portals and blogs — any discussion on the Internet at all — about the detention of Ai Weiwei and counter them with the party line, as expressed so clearly and ominously in a recent Global Times editorial, namely that Ai Weiwei is a self-appointed maverick who deserves to be detained, and who is being used by hostile Western powers to embarrass, hurt and destabilize China. This was not a request, it was a direct order. It was compulsory."
"Go out and do your thing, Global Times 50-centers. While a lot of people will be fooled, enough will see through the propaganda. I admire the young aspiring journalists I worked with there two years ago. If any of you are reading this (which is not very likely), I urge you to think for yourselves, and understand that while journalists have several roles, astroturfing message boards isn’t one of them."
There's a difference between running a newspaper and a propaganda operation. During its short existence the Global Times has winked at both, containing humorous satire which we could not be sure was understood by the editorial team, and direct parroting of the party line. It is now clear, though, on which side the Global Times's bread is buttered.
[Edit] Two more things before I go:
- It's worth bearing in mind that Ai, described by the Global Times as a "Maverick" who "will pay a price for his special choice", was reportedly offered CPPCC membership just days before his disappearance. If true, the sheer cynicism of this is just astounding.
- I'd like to say a few words to any of the foreign staff of China Daily, Global Times, China Radio International, CCTV 9, 21st Century, Shanghai Daily and other media outlets owned by the CCP or over which it exercises ultimate editorial control who may be reading this -
Yes, I get that what you guys may be working on may have nothing to do with politics. You may be working solely on sports, society, or arts pieces. I also get that your prescence within the place you are working may, in your view, have a beneficial effect, or at least be value-neutral. I also understand that a lot of you see your work as a temporary gig that will help kick-start your career in media, which I think everyone knows is a difficult business to get into.
But consider this - by working for these outlets you are lending them an air of credibility which they may not deserve. Even the humorous pieces which the people at Global Times occasionally get through are a double-edged sword, since they allow the editors to act as if they're in on the joke even if they weren't. Whatever beneficial things you do should be weighed against this potential harm.
Of course, it may be that, like Chris Gelken, formerly of CCTV 9 and latter at CRI, you actually largely agree with the editorial line uniformly applied across these publications by the censors. Or it may be that, like Edwin Maher, you subscribe to the morally bankrupt proposition that by propagating propaganda you are not in some way responsible for its dissemination. If, however, this does not apply to you, it would be unfortunate if people were to simply decide that it does on the basis that no-one could work for these organisations without holding such views.