Yesterday Caijing journalist Wang Xiaolu confessed on live television to spreading false information which led to stock market volatility, but many think he’s merely a scapegoat.
Having written an article on July 20 which claimed erroneously that China’s securities regulator was going to pull large quantities of stimulus money out of the stock market, Wang was arrested on July 25 after the Shanghai Composite Index suffered its biggest one-day fall since 2007.
According to Xinhua, Wang was placed under “criminal compulsory measures” for suspected violations of colluding with others and fabricating and spreading fake information on securities and futures market.
In his confession, live on state broadcaster CCTV, Wang said that he employed “abnormal channels” of information gathering which relied on “private inquiries” and “subjective judgement.”
Speaking to the Committee to Project Journalists, one of Wang’s colleagues who wished to remain anonymous said: “There isn’t any problem with Wang’s article from the perspective of news reporting. Wang’s arrest is because the authorities want to find scapegoat for the stock market collapse.”
Several commentators on Weibo also seemed unwilling to pin the blame on Wang. In a popular comment, user Dingweixin wrote: “Haha, so they’ve found some scapegoats? This is always how we solve problems.”
The televised confession, a tactic which has been employed with increasing frequency since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, is believed to be an effort by the authorities, who are increasingly on edge given recent events, to shift blame elsewhere.
In the past few weeks almost 200 people have been punished for spreading rumors over stock market uncertainty, the explosions in Tianjin and the upcoming military parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
By Dominic Jackson