Reporter Was Arrested for His Fiction by Yili Dairy Company

Reporter was arrested for his fiction by Yili dairy company

A reporter was arrested for his fiction by Yili dairy company in China. Liu Chengkun a Chinese We Media reporter was recently arrested by Inner Mongolia Police for “crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and “crime of defamation”. Liu Chengkun wrote two fictions which were accused of “satirizing the leaders of Yili Group”. But Liu Chengkun’s lawyer believed that Liu’s act didn’t constitute a crime.

Yili Group is a state-owned company of Dairy Industry in China. The group’s headquarters is located in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. Yili group is one of the ten biggest dairy manufacturers in the world. The annual turnover of Yili group was 60 billion Chinese Yuan in the year 2016. It is also one of the most important enterprises of Inner Mongolia.

The Chinese media recently reported the incident. Liu Chengkun was currently staying in custody in the first detention house of Hohhot. Liu Chengkun published his serial story “Journey to Leave Wulan” on his Wechat official account, which was considered “satirizing the leaders of Yili Group”.

Arrested Reporter Liu Chengkun

Arrested Reporter Liu Chengkun

In the morning of April 23rd, Feng Yanqiang, the defending lawyer of Liu Chengkun met him for the first time. Liu Chengkun told the lawyer that his original Intention of writing the serial story was attracting subscribers for his Wechat official account. “I don’t believe I’m guilty.” Liu Chengkun concluded it after explaining to his motivation of writing those stories to his lawyer. “I have heard lots of stories. And I have learned a lot of materials. I wasn’t instigated by anyone or worked with anyone. I have done it all by myself.”

Timeline of the Case

In the morning of April 2nd, Liu Chengkun was arrested in his apartment in Beijing. The polices took away his laptop and cellphone.

April 3rd, Weibo user “Hohhot News,” said, “Hohhot polices arrested suspect Liu in Beijing, who spread rumors about Pan Gang, the president of Yili Group.” Liu referred to Liu Chengkun. Before him, the Hohhot police also arrested a journalist of “21st Century Business Herald” for the similar reason. Till April 7th, there were 6 arrested by Hohhot Police for “spreading rumors about Pan Gang”.

April 9th, Liu Chengkun’s wife Zhang Li received the Notice of Arrest from the Hohhot City Police Station. The notice told her that the police station had the permission to arrest Liu Chengkun for being suspected of the crime of defamation”.

Based on Zhang Li’s memory, Liu Chengkun just quit his job from the press during that time. He hadn’t found a new job yet. So he started posting articles on his personal Wechat official account “Tianlu Financial”.

According to the report of some media, Liu Chengkun specifically posted in his Wechat Moment, “I’m going to write a short novel tonight. It is going to be a bomb. Please stay tuned!”

Liu's arresting order

Liu’s arresting order

Two days after the foreshow in Moment, Liu Chengkun used the pen name “Gentleman Tianlu” and posted two short novels on “Tianlu Financial”. They were titled “The Story of Mr. Pan Being in Charge of Xiongnu Dairy: Journey to Leave Wulan—Mr. Pan’s in Amelica Part 1” and “The Story of Mr. Pan Being in Charge of Xiongnu Dairy: Journey to Leave Amelica—Mr. Pan returned to Wulan to cooperate with the investigation”. At the beginning of both stories, Liu Chengkun emphasized that those were only fictions. He asked readers not to “seat by numbers”. (“Seat by numbers” is an idiom in Chinese which means matching unspecified things to specific people or events.)

The two short novels told the story of how “Mr. Pan” from “Xiongnu Dairy” succeed in his career. Then “Mr. Pan” went to a country called “Amelica” and he stayed there for at least 6 months. Then “Mr. Pan” returned to “Nation Wulan” (also a fictional country) to cooperate with the investigation.

On April 25th, Feng Yanqiang, Wang Lei, the defense lawyers of Liu Chengkun were interviewed by several media. They declared that Liu Chengkun would not be committed guilty. They were going to do advocacy of innocence for Liu Chengkun. They would also apply for mortification of enforcement measures, and they would apply to investigate the necessity of custody.

After-Effects of the Two Novels

Liu Chengkun told his defense lawyer during the meeting that his novels “were fictional”. It was based on some information he read on internet, including gossips about Pan Gang (president of Yili Group), as well as the story of Wang Shi (founder and chairman of China Vanke) giving lectures in Harvard University and Jia Yueting (the president of LeEco) staying in America, showing no wills to return China. He also mirrored some plots from movies and Wuxia literature.

Liu Chengkun also mentioned to his defense lawyer that the two novels didn’t get too many attentions first when he published them in his Wechat official account. “I only had 190 subscribers and 1-2 hundreds of clicks at that point, until another Wechat user ‘Financial Street Detective’ shared my stories on his official account”. Liu Chengkun said it to the lawyer. “Financial Street Detective” analyzed Liu Chengkun’s stories and he believed that “Mr. Pan” was referred to as Pan Gang. Since then, the clicks of the two novels started rising dramatically to more than 4,000 times and more than 6,000 times.

Liu Chengkun said, “I noticed that the click numbers were rising fast, and they were bringing unexpected effects to people. It wasn’t my original intention anymore. So I deleted the two novels myself before things lost control.” Now people can’t find them in both Wechat official accounts “Tianlu Finance” and “Financial Street Detective”.

The arrest of Liu Chengkun brought disaster to his family. His wife Zhang Li told the journalist of China Youth Online, “I thought he just wrote stories.” She didn’t know too much about what her husband was doing since they worked in very different fields. “I wasn’t interested in what he was working with.” She also didn’t know that there were 5 other people arrested for the similar reason.

“Chengkun cares a lot about his family. Our second child is only 11 months old. His mother is a farmer. She never experienced anything too complex. I can’t say she has a strong mind…Now I have to support the whole family, which makes him very emotional.”

Liu denied he is guilty

Liu denied he is guilty

When asked about the case itself, Liu Chengkun’s lawyer Feng Yanqiang said, “Chengkun believes that he isn’t guilty. He didn’t makeup stories, defaming anyone or harming anyone’s reputations.” He told the media that his next step action was forming a lawyer’s defense. He would apply for mortification of enforcement measures. He would also apply for investigating the necessity of custody.

“Cross a Province to Capture” was Questioned by the Public

The news soon started trending on the internet. The disclosure from Weibo user “Jiaomenke” firstly drew attention.

About 11:42 am on April 4th, “Jiaomenke” posted on Weibo. “My formal colleague Liu Chengkun seems like to be arrested by Hohhot Police in Beijing for creating the novel ‘Journey to Leave Wulan’, which were suspected satirizing the leader of Yili Group. I am paying high attention to the case. Hopefully the polices will solve the case with justice.” The Weibo post soon started trending and climbed up to its climax at 6 pm that day.

In the early morning of April 19th, Weibo user “Jiaomenke” posted again regarding Liu Chengkun’s case to question that there was no legal basis for Hohhot Police to arrest Liu Chengkun outside Inner Mongolia. The post gained lots of support from the netizens.

“A legal person can’t be an object of libel. The object of a crime of defamation has to be a natural person. The court can only accept the case when the victim filed a complaint by itself. A serious crime of defamation means that the crime leads to the victim’s suicide or severe psychiatric disorders. On the Notice of Arrest Liu Chengkun, it said he was involved in the crime of defamation. It’s debatable.” Another Weibo user named “Wenyu” shared his professional opinions upon the case.

Xi Zhongxun, the father of the current president of China Xi Jinping, was deposed by Mao Zedong in the 60s for writing a prelude for the novel “Biography of Liu Zhidan”. The article unpleased Mao in a way. Some netizens commented on this affair, “The president’s father was arrested for writing novels. It seems like the Great Cultural Revolution hasn’t ended yet.”

Liu Chengkun wasn’t the first one or the last one to be captured in a different province by Inner Mongolian polices. A few months ago, a doctor named Tan Qindong from Guangdong province was arrested by Inner Mongolian police for disclosing the so-called “Hongmao Medicinal Liquor” was actually harmful to people.

“Both the two cases drew the public’s attention because of the inappropriate interventions by public power.” An internet user commented.
“Liu Chengkun’s professional is financial and industrial news. He didn’t pay much attention to politics. It is dreadful that he was arrested for writing a few novels.” Mr. Liu said. He was one of Liu Chengkun’s friends. “Liu Chengkun used to be a journalist who focuses on finance and economy. As his friend, I was shocked that he was charged for ‘satirizing the Yili Group’. It was awful.”

Liu Chengkun’s arrest triggered the angry emotions of the public. It placed Yili Group in a dilemma. Not until the public forgot about Liu Chengkun, the Hohhot Polices once again “cross a province to capture”. This time they arrested a dairy farmer from Shanxi Province, who made a real-name reporting about Yili’s bullying.

The “Southern Weekly” reported the case. The Shanxi dairy farmer Guo Yuzhen was arrested by the Hohhot Police for making a real-name complain about Yili Group online. She was put in custody in the First Detention House of Hohhot City. She would probably be charged with the crime of damaging business credit or commodity reputation. Regarding this case, the Yili Group, Hohhot Police Station and the First Detention House of Hohhot City all rejected the requests of the interview by journalists.

Netizens Appealed to Boycott Yili Products

Liu Chengkun’s arrest triggered the negative emotions of netizens. There were a lot of them appealing to boycott Yili, including not buying and using any of its products and selling its stocks. The stock price of Yili Group dropped dramatically.

“I will not buy any products from Yili ever again. And I will suggest my family do the same thing.” A Weibo user named “Goblin near the river” said.

A well-known movie director Wang Zhian posted on Weibo: “The ‘Amazing Yili’ should arrest the people in charge of Weibo because there are too many people ‘defaming’ Yili Group here.”

“It’s hard to believe that as an enterprise, Yili Group can use the public power to take away people who said bad things about it. It’s very abnormal.” An internet user Mr. Deng commented.

Some Weibo users disclosed that the Department of Public Relationship of Yili Group seemed to pay a few Weibo celebrities to try to cover up the scandal.

“Big cooperations like Yili Group need to know that even they could overpower the law, they still cannot force people to buy their products.”

“Apparently, Inner Mongolia was controlled by cows now. (Yili Group is a dairy products manufacturer.)” Some angry netizens started calling the Hohhot Police “Yili’s Shepard dog”.

People’s Daily commented on the cases on April 17th, 2018: “It was easy to ‘across a province to capture’. However, it was hard to correct the misdoings. If we can’t build up an efficient restriction mechanism, who will be the next Liu Chengkun and Guo Yuzhen?”

Article Name
Reporter Was Arrested for His Fiction by Yili Dairy Company
A reporter was arrested for his fiction by Yili Dairy company in China. Liu Chengkun a Chinese We Media reporter was recently arrested by Inner Mongolia Police for “crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and “crime of defamation”.
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