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Dutch Newspaper Responds to Controversy over China Correspondent (Updated)

Oscar Garschagen has responded to the allegations that were made against him by his former assistant, which were republished by Chinese state media yesterday. “Pure nonsense,” Garschagen says in a NRC newspaper article – it allegedly is Zhang who is making up stories here. The recent article suggests that there was a lack of communication and trust between Garschagen and Zhang.

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Oscar Garschagen has responded to the allegations that were made against him by his former assistant, which were republished by Chinese state media yesterday. “Pure nonsense,” Garschagen says in a detailed reaction in the NRC – it is Zhang who is “making up stories” here. The article suggests that there was a lack of communication and trust between Garschagen and Zhang.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, whose China correspondent became a topic of controversy yesterday when his former assistant published a post online that accused him of creating “fake news,” has now responded to the issue.

The story became a hot topic when Zhang published his allegations on several social media platforms. An article about the issue by Beijing Time received nearly 12,5 million views yesterday.

In “About the journalistic integrity of our correspondent in China“, NRC’s Peter Vandermeersch writes that the allegations of Oscar Garschagen’s ex-assistant Zhang Chaoqun have deeply affected the China reporter and the editorial team.

The article states:

What’s going on? In the period leading to Oscar Garschagen’s holiday, some tensions arose at the NRC-office in Shanghai between him and his news-assistant Zhang Chaoqun concerning his research, and his lack of input.”

 

“He was unsure of whether or not Zhang had any connections to State Security.”

 

“Garschagen pointed out to Zhang that he had to improve his work. He found it especially problematical that Zhang was clearly unwilling to join Oscar to the upcoming 19th Party Congress, and that he lacked ideas.”

Vandermeersch writes that Zhang was initially recommended to Garschagen through a colleague at the American radio outlet NPR, but that he did not have any experiences as a reporter. This became a source of irritation, miscommunication, and mistrust between the Dutchman and his assistant.

The article claims that this was a reason for Oscar to often go out by himself without his assistant, “also because he was unsure of whether or not Zhang had any connections to State Security.”

This work situation made the Dutch reporter decide to change assistants during his holiday, Garschagen says, but Zhang apparently had already prepared an attack on his employer in the form of his post on Weibo and WeChat.

The NRC also quotes Garschagen when he says:

“The fact that the Party media encourages Zhang and is all too willing to republish his accusations is noteworthy to me- it suits the current media climate, that makes it increasingly difficult for foreign journalists to work here. I’ve been followed and stopped for a chat countless times.”

 

“It is just pure nonsense.”

 

The article addresses the separate allegations of Garschagen creating “fake news” one by one. Garschagen denies he has made up any stories and says that some names in his reports have only been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

About the 2015 NPR story that showed great similarities with Garschagen’s own 2016 report, he says that he did, in fact, visit the factory and that his former colleague who worked at NPR allowed their assistants to exchange information on places and persons to interview. Garschagen does not further address the similarities between the persons of “Gao” and “Lei” in their stories.

He says that there had been miscommunication about certain reports mentioned by Zhang, and that he might have had to be more detailed in how he formulated certain things.

About another allegation, one involving Garschagen allegedly reporting about a golf club which he never visited, the reporter says it is just “pure nonsense.”

 

“It leaves many questions unanswered.”

 

The Dutch detailed response to the allegations against Garschagen have not made headlines in Chinese media. On Twitter, however, not everyone is convinced with the explanations given for the “fake news” accusations.

China Reuters Consumer Correspondent Pei Li calls the article a “laughable response” that leaves “many questions unanswered.”

Zhang, who has reported his case to the NRC Ombudsman yesterday, has not yet responded to Garschagen’s denial of his accusations on his social media pages on Twitter or Weibo.

Garschagen says he has now contacted the Dutch foreign ministry in Shanghai about the claims made against him, and about the circumstances that make it increasingly difficult for him to do his job as a China correspondent.

Update September 6:

Zhang has posted a statement on Twitter in both Chinese and English, in which he expresses his hopes that NRC will still let a neutral third party investigate this case. (See embedded tweet below):

By Manya Koetse

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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Jiang Ge Tokyo Murder Case: Chen Shifeng Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

More than a year after the fatal stabbing, the main suspect in the much talked about Jiang Ge case has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tokyo judge.

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The main suspect in one of China’s most talked-about crime cases of 2017 has been found guilty of murdering Chinese student Jiang Ge, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Tokyo on Wednesday. It was not the death penalty that the victim’s mother had hoped for.

The Chinese exchange student Chen Shifeng, who was the main suspect in the controversial Jiang Ge murder case, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tokyo judge on Wednesday.

Chen was found guilty of intentionally killing Jiang Ge, who was also a student in Japan. Chinese media report that Chen fainted when the judge ruled the verdict.

Chen was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Tokyo murder has become a frequent trending topic on Chinese social media over the past year, as the victim’s mother turned to netizens for help earlier this year.

A ‘Public Drama’

In November 2016, the 24-year-old Chinese student Jiang Ge (江歌) was fatally stabbed outside her apartment in Tokyo by Chen Shifeng (陈世峰), the ex-boyfriend of her roommate and close friend Liu Xin (刘鑫), who was also studying in Japan.

According to media reports, an altercation had occurred earlier that day between Chen and the two young women. When Liu and Jiang arrived back to their apartment later that night, Liu entered the apartment first while Jiang, still outside the apartment, was attacked by Chen with a knife.

Jiang Ge and the apartment hallway where she was fatally stabbed.

The case became a ‘public drama’ for the role of Liu, who said she had heard her friend’s cries in the hallway but could not open the door because it “was blocked.” She called the police, but when they arrived at the scene it was already too late.

Victim’s mother Jiang Qiulian (@江秋莲) later blamed Liu for purposely not helping her friend, never contacting the family after her daughter’s murder, and for not even sending her condolences.

Jiang Qiulian spent weeks collecting signatures on the streets of Tokyo for an online petition that called for the death penalty for Chen, and received much support from Chinese netizens.

The Verdict

On Wednesday, the long-awaited verdict finally came out. Chen Shifeng was not given the death penalty, but was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering Jiang Ge.

The knife used in the stabbing played an important role in the trial. Chen claimed that it was not his intention to stab Jiang, but that the knife was given to Jiang by Liu through the door for her own protection.

But police researchers pointed out that the same kind of knife used in the stabbing was missing from the school lab where Chen studied, which was bought by his professor. The judge eventually ruled that there was enough evidence that the knife was Chen’s.

On Weibo, many people are discussing the outcome of the trial, saying that 20 years in prison is not enough for taking someone’s life. “He’ll only be 40-something when he gets out – it’s not enough,” some say.

But there are also people who praise the Japanese juridical system, and say that the ruling is fair. “I support them for getting out the facts and exposing Chen Shifeng as a liar and a murderer.”

– By Manya Koetse

With contributions from Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Media

These 36 Chinese Naval Officers Have Tied the Knot in a Group Wedding

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The collective warship wedding of 36 naval officers of the East China Sea Fleet has drawn the attention of Chinese netizens. Besides a romantic event, the wedding spectacle is also a propaganda opportunity to stress the importance of the Chinese Dream and building a powerful military.

Recently, 36 commanders of the East China Sea Fleet who had been postponing their marriages due to military tasks held a collective wedding on a warship in Zhoushang, Zhejiang.

The Chinese official military news outlet military.cnr.cn reported the remarkable wedding event earlier this month.

Besides a festive event, the collective wedding was also a media spectacle propagating the importance of China’s national defense in accordance with the speech delivered by President Xi Jinping during the 19th National Party Congress.

In this 3,5 hours speech, one segment focused specifically on the Chinese Dream and building a powerful military:

Comrades,

Our military is the people’s military, and our national defense is the responsibility of every one of us. We must raise public awareness about the importance of national defense and strengthen unity between the government and the military and between the people and the military. Let us work together to create a mighty force for realizing the Chinese Dream and the dream of building a powerful military.”

On Weibo, many commenters praise the collective wedding. “Why doesn’t my work unit organize such a group wedding?” one person wants to know.

“I also want to marry a naval officer!,” multiple netizens write.

– By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2017

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