February 4 — Strait’s Times reporter Ching Cheong was released from jail after spending close to three years in Chinese custody. Following his detention in April 2005, Ching was sentenced in September 2006 to a five-year prison term. [Early report from Bloomberg]. [Commentary from the Wall Street Journal].
February 5 — In a rather bold assessment of traditional and new media in China, Today’s Mass Media magazine said in its 2007 Report on Public Sentiment on the Internet (2007中国互联网舆情分析报告) that the Internet has become China’s true “mainstream media.” The report said that because traditional media have moved cautiously under the mandate of “guidance of public opinion” (舆论导向) in accepting or rejecting news and commentary since the 1990s, true public opinion about the government should be traced from the Internet.
February 8 — Former Southern Metropolis Daily editor and general manager Yu Huafeng (喻华峰) was released from jail, the third high-profile release of a journalist in China so far in February (following the release of Ching Cheong and former Fuzhou Daily editor Li Changqing). In a move many observers read as official retribution for daring reports by Southern Metropolis Daily in 2003, including SARS and the Sun Zhigang Case, Yu was accused in 2004 of accepting 970,000 yuan, or roughly US$135,000, in bribes. The so-called “Southern Metropolis Daily case”, implicating several senior figures at the paper, was criticized by many domestically, particularly those in the legal community. An official commentary, posted at People’s Daily Online, said of Yu’s release: “Yu Huafeng’s regaining of his freedom is a sign that the page has finally turned on the ‘Southern Metropolis Daily case’ of four years ago, which brought debate among journalists, economists and legal scholars.” [Reuters coverage of release].