We wrote yesterday about the ongoing standoff between Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper and the World Eminent Chinese Business Association (WECBA), a private organization run by Chinese billionaire Lu Junqing (卢俊卿) whose charity activities have in recent weeks come under scrutiny. In a letter to Southern Metropolis Daily dated September 7, the WECBA said it would take legal action against the paper if it continued along its “path of errors,” running reports alleging the organization is guilty of deception. The newspaper has stood by its series of reports on Lu Junqing and the WECBA, and yesterday added another investigative piece to the mix, suggesting the stand-off is unlikely to mitigate.
But as the WECBA threatens legal action against Southern Metropolis Daily, it is now also facing a potential legal challenge of its own.
Zhou Xiaoyun (周筱赟), a well-known “Internet user” (知名网友) with a record as a professional journalist, issued a video statement yesterday through Chinese social media saying that he is in the process of filing a case against Lu Junqing (卢俊卿) and his lawyer, Zhang Yong (张勇), for allegedly damaging his reputation.
Here is the video on Tudou, one of China’s domestic Youtube clones:
In the video, Zhou Xiaoyun makes a statement of three points:
1. He is being represented by Beijing Cailiang Law Firm
2. The firm is working to file the case with the relevant court having jurisdiction
3. Evidence has already been preserved with a notary agency regarding the [alleged] violation of Zhou’s right of reputation (名誉侵权).
Chinese media have already reported on Zhou Xiaoyun’s action against Lu Junqing, which apparently stems from remarks made on August 30 by Zhang Yong, the head of the WECBA legal team.
The basic story is that on August 27, as questions swirled in the media and online about China-Africa Project Hope, a project administered by the WECBA in cooperation apparently with the China Youth Development Foundation of the Chinese Communist Youth League, the WECBA issued a notice offering a reward of one million yuan for the “black hand working behind the scenes” in the scandal — their assumption being that a particular competitor was trying to blacken Lu Junqing’s reputation.
The very same day the WECBA issued the notice, Zhou Xiaoyun, who was one of the earliest to post on the internet about China-Africa Project Hope, wrote on his microblog that he “surrendered himself,” and encouraged other web users to quickly inform on him and collection the one million yuan reward.
In a media interview on August 30, Zhang Yong, the lawyer, apparently called Zhou Xiaoyun’s confession was “a claptrap ploy to please the crowd, entirely with a mind to promoting himself.” These words prompted Zhou Xiaoyun’s accusation that the WECBA was impugning his reputation.
On September 1, lawyer Wang Cailiang (王才亮) issued a statement on Zhou Xiaoyun’s behalf, demanding that Zhang Yong apologize publicly.
Reports in the Chinese media on Zhou Xiaoyun’s action against the WECBA can be found at China Youth Daily here, at the Economic Observer here and at the New Business Daily here.