The Foreign Correspondents Club of China is deeply distressed by the recent trials and imprisonments of Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist working for the Straits Times newspaper of Singapore and Zhao Yan, an employee of The New York Times.
Mr. Ching is a well-known and respected journalist who has covered Greater China for 30-plus years. His five-year conviction on spying charges without a single piece of evidence presented publicly in support of the charges sends a disturbing message to all correspondents in China.
Mr. Zhao works for one of the world’s most respected news organizations. His three-year conviction on fraud charges in a closed trial with no defence witnesses raises grave concerns about the rule of law in China.
From arrest to detention to trial, the treatment of both defendants has fallen short of international standards of justice. There has been no transparency in proceedings and no consistency in the implementation of law. Amid frequent reports of detentions and harassment of foreign correspondents and Chinese citizens who assist them, these cases are being seen internationally as an attempt to intimidate news organizations in China.
In the absence of due process, we believe the legal proceedings were flawed and urge that Zhao and Ching be released. Such cases damage China’s international reputation, create unease among our members and overshadow progress that has been made in other areas of Chinese society.