The Doctor Arrested by a Medicinal Liquor Company

The doctor arrested by a medicinal liquor company

Today’s story is sad and is about the doctor arrested by a medicinal liquor company. Tan Qindong, a doctor lived in Guangdong province was recently arrested by Inner Mongolian polices for “damaging business reputation” of a product named “Hongmao Medicinal Liquor”. This incident drew attention national wide after reported by a few Chinese media and this is the 2nd case of a company arresting a citizen for their speech in the year of 2018 in China.

A Doctor was “Cross a Province Captured” for Writing an Online Article

Doctor Tan,s arresting warrant

Doctor Tan,s arresting warrant

39 years old Tan Qindong used to be an anesthesiologist at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Southern Medical University in China. He graduated from the university in the year 2010, obtained his master’s degree in Anesthesiology, physic, a qualification and clinical practice certificate. He also served as pharmaceutical company’s medical officer and consultant. From 2015, he started his own pharmaceutical technology company.

December 19, 2017, Tan Qindong posted an article named “Chinese ‘miracle liquor’ Hongmao: Poison from Heaven” on his personal page of Meipian App. The article was clicked more than 2,200 times. It analyzed the damage Hongmao Medicinal Liquor could possibly cause on senior people from angiocardiopathy perspective.

Timeline of Tan Qindong’s Arrest

After the article was posted, the producer of Hongmao Medicinal Liquor soon responded. They claimed that two enterprises and 7 individual customers canceled the orders of their products. The producer lost 1,377,156 in total. The Hongmao Medicinal Liquor producer said that they have filed a case against Tan Qindong for him “malicious smearing” the curative effects of Hongmao Medicinal Liquor which led to the drop in sales of their products.

January 10th, 2018, the Liangcheng County Police officers of Inner Mongolia arrived in Guangdong province to arrest Tan Qindong.
April 15th, 2018, the Liangcheng County Police Station released the case report against Tan Qingdong.

In the afternoon of January 25th, 2018, arresting Tan Qindong was approved by local prosecutors of Liangcheng County, Inner Mongolia. Then, the case had been transferred to the prosecution agency for review and prosecution.

Tan Qindong’s Family’s Response to the Case

Hongmao medicinal liquor

Hongmao medicinal liquor

The unexpected incident brought fear to Tan Qindong’s family. His wife, Liu Xuan told the whole story during the interview with a newspaper. She said that she didn’t see this happen. “My husband was pressed on the floor by a few people. They said they were “undercover cops” from Liangcheng County, Inner Mongolia.” She was also told to “go away” because “reasons can’t speak of”. When she came back the second time, her husband and the polices were already gone. Liu Xuan told the media that the people who called themselves “police officers” didn’t show any valid files such as the notice of arrest or their badges before they took Tan Qindong away.

The next day, Tan Qindong’s mother received a text message from him. Tan Qindong told his family “not to worry”. And he was arrested for “damaging the reputation of a business”. His wife Liu Xuan later learned from the lawyer that it was about the article he wrote referring to Hongmao Medicinal Liquor. Liu Xuan thought, regarding this case as a crime was “totally overreacting”. She also asked a few questions, “Does this article actually include those ‘fabricated facts’ like they said? How big was the article’s influence? Did Hongmao actually lose that much money as they said?”

Liu Xuan can’t understand why her husband was treated as a criminal just for writing an article. “They shouldn’t have applied the criminal law on him”. She said. “The whole family was worried sick about him after he got the arrest. I can’t tell our kid the truth. I kept telling him that daddy was on a ‘business trip’.”

Did Tan Qindong Really Break the Law?

The crime of damaging commercial reputation is to fabricate and spread false facts, damage others’ commercial reputation, the reputation of goods, cause serious losses to others or have other serious behaviors. However, whether Doctor Tan Qindong constituting the crime wasn’t as obvious as what Hongmao Medicinal Liquor declared.

Doctor Tan and his lawyer

Doctor Tan and his lawyer

Tan Qindong’s lawyer, Hu Dingfeng went to Liangcheng County, Inner Mongolia twice. “I was there submitting my legal opinions. And I also tried my best to bail him out.” Hu Dingfeng said.

“In my legal opinions, I suggested that Tan Qindong’s behavior of writing the article didn’t constitute a crime. According to the definition of ‘crime of damaging commercial reputation’ in the law, he has to fabricate and spread false facts, which he has never done. His article was just listing the opinions based on his research about Hongmao Medicinal Liquor.” The Liangcheng County polices didn’t take the opinion. They also rejected the bail. “Hongmao Medicinal Liquor hasn’t come to an understanding of this case with Tan Qindong. It’s impossible for you to bail him out.” The Liangcheng County polices told Hu Dingfeng.

“If the procuratorate decides to sue Tan Qindong, I will defend him as not guilty. If not, I will prepare another plan based on the reasons for not sueing him.” Lawyer Hu told it to the media.

The media also noticed that there were three companies under Tan Qindong’s name. Two of them were in the medical technology field. Hu Dingfeng told the media that Tan’s companies focused on skin treatment and medical cosmetology. “There is nothing to do with competition between businesses,” Hu said.

Tan Qindong’s Release

In the afternoon of April 17th, the procuratorate of Inner Mongolia released a notice regarding the case of “Tan Qindong damaging the commercial reputation of Hongmao Medicinal Liquor”. It said that after investigation, there were not enough evidence and facts showing that Tan Qindong damaged the commercial reputation of Hongmao Medicinal Liquor. A few hours after the notice was released, the procuratorate of Inner Mongolia called Tan’s lawyer Hu Dingfeng that he was able to bail Tan out.

After the relevant procedures of bail were completed, around 6 pm of that day, Tan Qindong left the detention house with his lawyer Hu Dingfeng.

Hu Dingfeng said he would still want an explanation from all the related units. “If Tan Qindong’s behavior doesn’t constitute crime, we will be asking for apologies and compensations.”

“It Was What I Should Do Being a Good Doctor”

Lawyer Hu Dingfeng was positive about the case. “This case drew attention from the legal system. I’m very positive about the result.” He told the media.

People drew a cartoon to satirize this incident

People drew a cartoon to satirize this incident

After 97 days of being trapped in the detention house, Tan Qindong said he was excited to be able to leave. “I feel very excited. I’m grateful that my case drew attention from the netizens and media national wise. I don’t regret writing that article. I think it was what I should do being a good doctor, a professional one. I don’t think I deserve what I have been through. But I wish I could go back to work soon. I will see the days in detention as a life experience.”

However, Tan Qindong didn’t live as well as he told the media. His wife Liu Xuan said that after Tan Qindong was bailed out, he started to lock himself in his room. His family observed that he cried, talked to himself, even slapped himself and hit the wall with his head. He was sent to the hospital immediately. After two day’s treatment, he was in a stable condition with a mild high blood pressure and occasionally talking nonsense. Based on the diagnosis, Tan Qindong was suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tan Qindong’s lawyer Hu Dingfeng also mentioned that when he first met Tan in the detention house, Tan insisted that he was innocent. However, soon after that, Tan told Hu that he could even accept guilty defense, because “he can’t fight against them (the police) anymore”. After he was bailed out, Tan Qindong kept saying “it’s good to have freedom again” on his way back home.

It caused lots of uproars on the internet. Many netizens questioned that how a health supplement company could make the local police to arrest someone in a different province just for an online article which was against them.

“The National Violence Authority is now the thug of an enterprise? We request a reasonable explanation of it.” Weibo user @Montage commented under Tan Qindong’s case.

What’s Hongmao Medicinal Liquor and Who’s Behind It?

Younger generations in China may be not familiar with Hongmao Medicinal Liquor since the product was mostly advertised on the local TV channels. Its target customers are middle-aged people and seniors who were lack of medical resources, and also easily trusted TV commercials.

“Hongmao Medicinal Liquor was made from 67 different organic herbal ingredients.” “Drink Hongmao Medicinal Liquor every day, keep all the diseases away.” Those are the advertising words used on the TV. Believe it or not, it sounded very appealing for some people. Hongmao Medicinal Liquor had an annual profit of 1.2 billion Yuan in the year 2015. That’s why Hongmao is so generous on its budget on TV commercials: Hongmao spent 15 billion Yuan on its TV commercials in the year 2016, which topped the whole industry.

Hongmao's forgiveness to Doctor Tan

Hongmao’s forgiveness to Doctor Tan

The big investment on commercials can’t change that fact that Hongmao Medicinal Liquor is a product with problems. A Chinese newspaper called “Health Daily” reported that during the ten years, Hongmao Medicinal Liquor has been reported illegally by Food and Drug Administration Authorities of 25 provinces and cities, including Jiangsu, Liaoning, Shanxi, and Hubei, and the number of violations has reached 2,630, and it has even been suspended for sale for dozens of times.

Which was strange, even Hongmao Medicinal Liquor has thousands of violations, the Food and Drug Administration Authority of Inner Mongolia, which should be responsible for regulating Hongmao, always turned on the “green light” for it. According to the official website of the National Food and Drug Administration of China, from 2011 to now Hongmao Medicinal Liquor has received a total of 1034 advertisement approvals. From January to July in the year 2017, Hongmao had received 234 approvals. In the meantime, In 2016, the government work report of Liangcheng County (where Hongmao Pharmaceutical was located) in Wulanchabu City showed that Hongmao Pharmaceuticals paid over 160 million Yuan in tax revenue for five years, of which sales revenue was 1.2 billion Yuan in 2015 and tax revenue was nearly 60 million Yuan. The local GDP of Liangcheng County in Inner Mongolia was only 8 billion Yuan.

Cao Peixin, professor of School of Television, Communication University of China said that Hongmao Medicinal Liquor’s commercial was not a unique case. “It was very common that in China, medical and pharmaceuticals are huge profitable industries.”

Most Recent Updates of Tan Qindong’s Case

In the afternoon of May 17th, 2018, Tan Qindong posted an apology letter with his wife’s Weibo account. He said that him using the term “poison” to describe Hongmao Medicinal Liquor was trying to “catch eyes”. He also said in the apology letter that he realized it was very inconsiderable and unprofessional of him to write the article. “I’m deeply sorry for the bad influences my article has possibly brought to Hongmao Pharmaceutical. I hope that Hongmao Pharmaceutical can forgive what I have done.” Later that day, Hongmao Pharmaceutical soon respond to the apology letter. On the notice, it said, “After a full communication with Mr. Tan Qindong, we understand that Mr. Tan didn’t mean anything evil in his article. We carefully read through Tan Qindong’s apology letter, and we decided to accept his apology. In the meantime, we will withdraw the case from Liangcheng County People’s Court.”

Tan Qindong’s apology was a total unexpected turnover of the story. Many people who have been following the case all said that they didn’t see this happening at all. A lawyer named Zhou Xiaoyun wrote an article “Guangdong doctor was arrested for writing an article. How to do an efficient innocent defense for him?” He insisted on his opinion that Tan Qindong’s behavior didn’t constitute the crime of damaging commercial reputation. TanQindong’s apology was totally out of his expectation. “The Procuratorate of Liangcheng County should withdraw the case even Tan Qindong didn’t apologize. Even they insisted on sueing him, he (Tan Qindong) won’t lose with all the support from the Department of Public Security and the Supreme Procuratorate, even the official media such as People’s Daily and Xinhua. He could have won the case. But he apologized, now the winner is Hongmao Medicinal Liquor. Then they (Hongmao Medicinal Liquor) can tell people that Tan Qindong was cooking up stories. So they can keep selling their products to ignorant customers!”

100 year ago, the great Chinese litterateur Lu Xun wrote in the preface of his novels collection “Na Han (Scream)”, “If the boiled blood hasn’t cooled down yet, he will shout somehow to encourage the fellow pioneers he never met. He is not alone.”

Justice may be late but never missed.

Article Name
The Doctor Arrested by a Medicinal Liquor Company
Tan Qindong the doctor arrested by a medicinal liquor company was released but it's not the end yet, this incident just had an update, doctor Tan publicly apologized to Hongmao company and the company withdrew the case to Dr. Tan. Why? Read on
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