Top China news anchor held in anti-graft sweep
PROSECUTORS detained a top Chinese news anchor shortly before a nightly broadcast, state media reported, as the authorities extended anti-corruption efforts deeper into the country's media industry.
Rui Chenggang, the popular host of financial news programmes on China Central Television (CCTV), was taken away from the studio on Friday, the ruling Communist Party's official paper, the People's Daily, said on its Twitter account on Saturday night.
Rui's detention, along with that of the network's vice-director of financial news Li Yong, comes a little more than a month after officials announced an investigation into suspected bribery by his boss, CCTV's advertising director and director-general of its finance and economics channel, Guo Zhenxi.
The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since the appointment last year of President Xi Jinping, who has said widespread graft threatens the party's survival.
As an indication of the suddenness of Rui's detention, a second microphone appeared on the set of Friday night's Economic News broadcast, though it was anchored only by Rui's co-host, reported the financial news site Caixin.com.
"Rui Chenggang was directly taken away from CCTV by the authorities last night (Friday) and no notice was given at the time to the programme," Caixin cited an unnamed CCTV employee as saying.
Rui, 36, is one of China's most prominent business journalists, whose strongly nationalist stances and controversial remarks have helped make him a celebrity.
His prominence in China grew in 2007, after his comments on a Starbucks outlet located in Beijing's ancient Forbidden City helped spur a public outcry that led the coffee chain to close the branch.
Rui's Twitter-like Sina microblog, on which he has more than 10 million followers, was still accessible yesterday and some CCTV Web pages still contained his biographical details.
CCTV could not be reached immediately for comment.
Critics have long pointed to corruption within the ranks of state media, arguing that blackmail is widespread and that journalists are susceptible to bribery.
Mr Xi has vowed to take down powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies" in his graft-busting campaign, and inspection teams have fanned out across China.