The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China welcomes the release of Hong Kong-based Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong, who was arrested in Guangzhou in April 2005 and charged with allegedly spying for Taiwan. In August 2006, Ching was sentenced to five years in prison; he had served almost two years of his sentence before being released on parole Feb. 5, 2008.
Seen as a goodwill gesture as Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, Ching’s release on medical grounds allows him to spend the traditional Lunar New Year holiday with relatives and friends in Hong Kong, where the journalistic community had organized an online petition and other activities denouncing the accusations against him. On several occasions, the FCCC publicly called on Chinese authorities to free Ching and make public the details of his case.
While Ching’s release is welcome, serious questions remain regarding the opaque nature of his arrest, trial and incarceration. The FCCC is concerned about Chinese authorities’ lack of transparency, and the use of national security-related charges, in cases involving media personnel. We urge the Chinese government to make public the legal proceedings related to not only Ching Cheong but all other imprisoned journalists.