We did not think it would happen, but it has. Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong (程翔), chief China correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times has been released. This totally unexpected release has come about 3 weeks after his 1000th day of imprisonment. Ching Cheong was said to have been lured into the Guangdong Province while researching former Premier Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) and subsequently charged with spying for Taiwan. With Ching Cheong’s release, all eyes are now on Hu Jia’s trial.
Some quotes from various sources after the jump:
Susana Kwong, Principal Information Officer for the Chief Executive’s office:
“We have informed Ching Cheong’s family about his release… [Chief Executive Donald Tsang] “was particularly happy to see Ching could reunite with his family before the Lunar New Year”.
Mak Chai-ming, a spokeswoman for the Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group:
“I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, but this news has definitely come all of a sudden… He was definitely not happy and not adapting to that kind of (prison) life.”
Fan Ho Tsai, chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalist Association:
“But we have to reiterate that our standpoint is that we believe that Ching Cheong is innocent and that we are very disappointed that he has been incarcerated for over 1,000 days before released.”
Liu Jianchao, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the regular press briefing:
“I was saying I’m not quite clear about the actual situation of the case, but I mean that the judicial organs of China will deal with this in accordance with law.”
Warren Fernandez, deputy editor of The Straits Times:
“He is still a full-fledged member of our staff, we had him as a staff member all this while, providing his family with financial and legal support… So, once we get a chance to talk with him, we will discuss his future plans.”
Francis Moriarity, press freedom chairman of Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents Club:
[The Chinese media situation is] “one step forward, one step backward. On one hand, you see some things opening up a bit, and you see promises from the Chinese government. At the same time, you see crackdown, you see denial, you see bloggers being put in jail, you see the arrest of Hu Jia.”
Statement from Singapore Press Holdings, Ching Cheong’s former employer:
“We are delighted at the news of Ching Cheong’s parole and long awaited release.
We are very happy that he will be reunited with his wife and family for Chinese New Year.
We look forward to meeting him as soon as possible.”
Previously on Shanghaiist
1000th day of Ching Cheong’s imprisonment
Detained Straits Times journalist Ching Cheong ailing in prison
Straits Times: China frees jailed ST reporter Ching Cheong: report
Voice of America: China Releases Jailed Journalist
Reuters: China frees Hong Kong journalist ahead of Olympics
Al-Jazeera: China ‘frees’ jailed HK reporter