Trying to get rid of surfing, wasted too much time, any suggestion?.......................... 七宗罪?............................... 1,没有原则的政治;2,不劳而获的财富;3,没有理智的享乐;4,没有特点的知识;5,没有道德的商业;6,没有人文关怀的科学;7,没有牺牲的崇拜。............................................. 虽然这是圣雄甘地说老印的.......

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A case study of investigative reporting in China

The Beijing Taxi Corruption Case
Investigative Journalism
Investigative Reporting
Editor's Note:
On December 6, 2002, China Economic Times, a business daily published by the State Council's Development Research Center, ran investigative reporter Wang Keqin's 30,000-word expose, "The Inside Story on the Beijing Taxi Cartel." The story, which detailed the widespread abuse of Beijing drivers by taxi companies under bad policy making at the city level, dominated six of the paper's 16 pages.When the issue hit newsstands, interest in the Wang's report was red hot. In some cities, local distributors kicked the paper's one yuan cover price up as high as 10 yuan. On one of the country's most popular Web portals,, the article logged a new single-day record for online readership. The Propaganda Bureau clamped down as quickly as it could, issuing a ban against other media syndicating or otherwise using the story. Locally, the Beijing Transportation Bureau, the agency most directly attacked in the report, issued an order to taxi drivers saying they were not to read that day's issue of China Economic Times.China's vice-premier, Wen Jiabao, issued an official response eight days later: "The troubles in our taxi industry can no longer be ignored. Government agencies are ordered to review the issue and propose reforms." By New Year the first official report was in the hands of Premier Zhu Rongji.Wang Keqin's case raises many key issues. While Wang Keqin's report received widespread attention, few realized the extreme personal sacrifice the article had required of the reporter. Focused only on the taxi case, the reporting and writing of which consumed more than three months, Wang had foregone income from regular articles. To make matters worse, he had to put up his own transportation costs. Wang’s situation is indicative of the personal financial challenges facing many journalists, but particularly investigative reporters, working under this piece-rate system. Wang Keqin is also one of the best examples of what some have called a “hero complex” among more dedicated investigative reporters. In the preface that follows we explore this idea in more detail, tracing some of the factors that complicate the work and character of reporters like Wang Keqin.Wang's study also provides a glimpse into how editors at one Chinese newspaper approach the risks of publishing sensitive reports, how they try to minimize that risk, and how reporters work behind the scenes to make sure, as best they can, that their articles make the paper. In this case, China Economic Times must carefully consider whether to publish the report on the eve of national political meetings, or put the story on hold for weeks.Beijing Taxi Corruption CaseOn June 28, 2002, the staff for the weekly supplement of China Economic Times, a leading Chinese business daily, held their routine Friday editorial meeting. Wang Nan, the section's editor, handed veteran investigative reporter Wang Keqin a pile of research materials, including a document from the newpaper's parent organization, the Development Research Center (DRC), a policy think-tank of China's State Council. The DRC document, "An Investigation and Petition on the Plight of Beijing Taxi Drivers," was sent over by Guo Lihong, who ran the center's economics and technology division, and included statements taken from local taxi drivers. While it was common for China Economic Times' reporters to cite officials from the DRC in their reports, it was rare for officials from the center to send reports directly to the newsroom. Wang Nan urged Wang Keqin to look into a story about the exploitation of taxi drivers in Beijing. The plight of taxi drivers was news to Wang, who had long assumed they were better off than many of the city's residents.The DRC petition was eye opening. It not only detailed abuses suffered by the drivers, but pointed to bad policymaking as the root cause. Regulations put in place by the city's transportation department had handed control of the industry to a handful of taxi companies, whose bosses had become de facto industry overlords. Taxi drivers were routinely obliged to hand over in fees as much as 70 percent of the income they took in from passengers. The bulk of these fees came under the rubric of "taxi portions", charges paid essentially for the privilege of operating a vehicle. They bore an uncanny resemblance, Wang Keqin observed, to the "protection fees" levied on businesses by organized crime in the pre-Communist period. Companies applied these extortionate fees to leases on the taxis, but drivers retained no rights to their vehicles.In 1995, one driver attempted to defend his right to taxi ownership through the court system. When the Beijing High Court refused to even hear his case, thousands of drivers from around the city stalled their cars at Beijing West Station. Traffic in the area ground to a halt for several hours. More unrest followed in the summers of 1996 and 2000, during which drivers staged similar strikes at Beijing’s Capital International Airport.The problem wasn't exactly new to China's leaders. Shortly after Wang began his investigation, he came across an article from the May 2001 issue of China Market magazine quoting a government researcher as saying that in late 2000 Premier Zhu Rongji had criticized the taxi industry nationwide before a meeting of Party leaders. According to the researcher’s recollection, Zhu had compared the tactics of taxi companies to those of Shanghai's infamous Green Gang. The premier had also sent his wife, Lao An, on a fact-gathering mission. She had ridden taxis in cognito and spoken with drivers about their experiences.In the year since Zhu Rongji's supposed mention of the problem, no action had been taken to improve the situation. Several newspapers had tried to break the silence, only to abandon the story under pressure from thugs on company payrolls. Wang Keqin was angered by the media’s failure to look after the welfare of taxi drivers. "If a journalist has no conscience, if he has no sense of humanity, he is completely useless," he later said.Wang Keqin needed to hear the taxi drivers' stories directly. With the help of Shao Changliang, one of the men listed in the DRC document, he arranged interviews with scores of drivers. But the sense of futility among taxi drivers meant they were not too keen to share their experiences with a reporter. "I don't care if you’re President Jiang Zemin," said one driver at a diner popular with local cabbies. "What good can possibly come from the work of one journalist? Why waste an interview?"Wang persisted, using a variety of approaches. He conducted group and one-on-one interviews. He made visits to driver’s homes and to popular hangouts. Over the course of several months, he managed to complete interviews with more than 100 drivers.Their anecdotes painted a stark picture of an industry held hostage by an informal pact between regulators and company bosses. City officials gave taxi companies the power to fleece drivers, who had to work ungodly hours just to makes ends meet. One driver said company managers had appeared beside his hospital bed just hours after he was wheeled out of surgery, and refused to leave until he had paid his "taxi portion". All the drivers seemed to know someone who had died at the wheel from extreme fatigue.Wang was chilled to the bone, he said, by the conditions of poverty many families in Beijing endured. On a blistering hot night in August, he visited the tiny, 90 square-foot apartment of driver Feng Jiyou, where six family members of three generations were huddled together. Wang Keqin listened to the old man's sobbing accusations against company bosses. Perspiration poured down his back as an electric fan clattered ineffectually overhead.One of the clearest illustrations of Wang's rapport with the drivers was their eventual willingness, without a single exception, for him to use their real names in his story. He convinced his sources being up-front about their identities was the only way to show the truth and reliability of their accounts, and convey the urgency of their situation.Eventually, Wang would remark self-deprecatingly that he had gone out of his way to cut an absurd figure – a small-time reporter, leading a ragged life, fighting for the equitable treatment of taxi drivers who made roughly double what he did on a salary basis.When assigned to the taxi story, Wang Keqin’s monthly salary was 1,200 yuan (US$145), just enough to cover the barest necessities in a city where a small apartment costs about 1,500 yuan (US$180) a month. Wang could ordinarily expect to supplement his salary with income from published articles – 60 yuan (US$7.25) each. Accepting an investigative assignment meant he would have to get by without this income.Personal accounts from the taxi drivers were important. But Wang Keqin, a fanatical believer in what he calls "comprehensive, impartial and accurate reporting", needed more. A reporter must have as many types of evidence as possible for any given story, he says, including eyewitness and written accounts, but especially documentary evidence. Where documentary evidence is concerned, one must have originals, unless these are impossible to get hold of. Ideally, says Wang, you gather a substantial quantity of any particular document type (for example, registration documents from taxi drivers) so these can be compared for accuracy and consistency.Not one to leave room for uncertainty, Wang keeps an inkpad with him at all times. This way he can fingerprint his sources, with their consent of course, and the evidence is admissible in court in the event of a libel suit or criminal case.The taxi drivers provided Wang with key documentation: signed statements, receipts for various fees or fines, photocopies of notices issued by government agencies.But he was also determined to hear all sides of the story. This meant he had to speak with officials from all government offices involved in any way, shape or form with the taxi industry. By Wang’s reckoning, there were more than 30 such agencies, covering transportation, labor, tax, commerce, insurance.The sheer number of targets made Wang's mission difficult enough as it was. Getting through the door, though, was the biggest challenge of all.Cultivating the source: government agencies.There are no laws or regulations in China granting access to documents by journalists, who constantly run the risk of "revealing state secrets". In such a climate, government agencies can employ any number of strategies to keep media scrutiny at bay. The simplest, of course, is simply refusing an interview.Wang Keqin phoned scores of officials during his initial few weeks on the story. Only three consented to interviews, all of these labor officials, the meetings helped along by a word from a colleague with strong contacts in the labor department.On July 2, just days after he had accepted the assignment, Wang made his first attempt to reach officials at the Beijing Municipal Transportation Bureau. Zhang Lei, an officer in the bureau’s publicity office, asked China Economic Times to fax an official request. It was the beginning of several weeks of foot-dragging."Our district chief is away from his desk right now," the publicity officers would say. Or: "Our district chief is in a meeting right now"; "We have already forwarded your information to the Taxi Management Office"; "We are still waiting for an answer." Wang placed at least three or four calls a week to the bureau’s publicity office. "Please hold," was the most typical response.Beijing's labor department requested China Economic Times send over Wang Keqin's press pass, work visa and a letter of introduction. Wang's editor faxed over the official letter and said the press pass and work visa were on their way. No sooner had it received the fax then the department modified its procedure. "We will also require an official letter from your personnel department concerning the press pass," they said. The newspaper's personnel office sent the letter over as requested. They were told to wait while superiors at the bureau were consulted.After this Wang constantly badgered the department with calls. "We're looking into it", staff responded. At this point one of Wang's friends, a reporter for a labor department newspaper, managed to set up casual meetings with three labor officials, one from the investigative division of the Beijing Labor Bureau, two others from district branches. These meetings, Wang said, gave him a "systematic" understanding of labor practices as they applied to the taxi industry.Wang also managed to get his foot in the door at several insurance firms, who were cooperative because taxi companies had been a constant headache, violating contracts and siphoning off business by offering illegal insurance policies. Two of the firms had on-staff analysts specializing in the taxi industry. They brought Wang up to speed on taxi company business methods and provided statistics on fake insurance policies and illegally issued taxi permits.One analyst said his company had pegged the taxi industry as a potential insurance market worth 300 million yuan (US$36 million) a year. So far, though, bona fide insurance firms had signed a total policy volume amounting to just one-tenth of this.Wang felt he was making progress on key background for his story. But reaching taxi industry regulators in the city transportation department was proving impossible, and they were most directly responsible for the state of affairs in the taxi industry.He finally went around the department’s publicity office to make a few inquiries. He managed to have the department head of the transportation department’s regulatory office return his call, and although an interview was still uncertain he visited the office on July 31, hoping to leverage this weak acquaintance. The secretary said the boss was out for the day, but Wang managed to speak briefly with an office employee, who grudgingly gave a few details.On his way out, Wang slipped into the publicity office. There at last he met the chief stonewaller, Zhang Lei, face to face. It was not a happy meeting. “I recommend you leave now and try reaching us about this later,” Zhang said ominously. “We can see if Mr. Liang, the head of our taxi management office, will agree to meet with you.”Arguing with Zhang Lei was obviously hopeless. Under Zhang’s gaze, Wang strode convincingly out the main entrance. He made three or for innocent turns in the courtyard before bounding straight back in and making for the taxi management office."I'm here to see Department Head Liang," he said as soon as he was through the door."What for?""An interview.""That's not possible, I'm afraid. News is handled by the publicity office. We don't deal with the press directly."Stonewalled again, Wang Keqin could only go back to his old business of pestering Zhang Lei with incessant phone calls.He did manage at one point to find the direct line for Liang Jianwei, the head of the taxi management office. But Liang bounced him back to Zhang Wei: "News is handled by the publicity office," he said, “I don't directly accept interviews with reporters."Liang, it turned out, ran his own local taxi company. His name appeared in one of the articles Wang had stumbled across in his early research, the very same one mentioning Premier Zhu Rongji's indictment of the industry.On August 26, nearly two months into his investigation, Wang Keqin received a call from one of his taxi driver sources. “Didn’t you say you‘re finding it impossible to reach officials from the transportation department?” he said. “Well, a group of us are going there tomorrow to meet with the director, Zhang Yansheng. Why don’t you come along?”This was the best opportunity to come along so far. Finally, here was a shot at a response from industry regulators to balance the heaps of evidence from taxi drivers.They arrived at the transportation department just before 9 am the next morning and squatted outside Zhang Yansheng’s office. Staff asked them to leave, but they refused to budge. A pair of uniformed police officers paced in the hallway, keeping a close eye.At around half past nine, Zhang Yansheng stepped out of a nearby office and asked the drivers to have a seat in the conference room. When he walked in a few minutes later, he fixed his eyes immediately on Wang Keqin."Today I'm meeting only with the drivers," he said. "Are you by any chance a driver?""No" said Wang. "I'm a friend of theirs.""If you’re not a driver, get the hell out," Zhang growled.Wang refused to move. A pair of burly staffers grabbed him by his arms and dragged him into the hall. Several security guards took him to a waiting area in an adjacent building, where just before 10 am two white-haired department ombudsmen came in to reason quietly with him. They told him a few things about the taxi industry, but were largely unhelpful and insisted a meeting with Zhang Yansheng was not in the cards.Reflecting back on this visit, Wang Keqin rued the fact he hadn't made a greater effort to blend in with his friends that morning. Sitting among the rough-mannered drivers, he stood out like a sore thumb. Presumably this raised the suspicion of office employees, who put Zhang on guard.Wang's investigation would later confirm that officials from the transportation department had been routinely paid off with bribes from taxi companies. In fact, many officials, like Zhang Yansheng, wore two hats, regulator and company owner. This ensured the priority of policy-making was looking after the wealth of the companies, not the welfare of the drivers.Cultivating the Source: Taxi CompaniesAs impossible as Wang had found reaching government agencies, it was even tougher to get responses from taxi companies. He reached over 20 local companies by telephone. None of the city's more established taxi companies consented to interviews.When he tried walking into the offices of Wanquansi Taxi, one of Beijing's more visible companies, a pair of guards blocked his entry. He insisted on a meeting with the boss. Office employees ridiculed him and badgered him with questions. Finally, a man stumbled out of the office, reeking of alcohol, and put his nose in Wang Keqin's face: "What paper did you say you're from? We don't want an interview! Get the hell out!" And Wang was dragged bodily from the building.Wang did find managers at several smaller companies who were willing to speak with him. But his breakthrough came as he was meeting with the deputy transportation director of Beijing’s Pinggu District, the second-in-command at the district’s local department branch. This official was fed up, he said, with the department's lack of will in dealing with the very real problems facing taxi drivers under their jurisdiction. As they talked, the official became very animated.Wang saw his opening. Knowing he would have to gain the official's confidence to gain his cooperation, Wang emphasized his newspaper's association with the State Council via its parent organization, the Development Research Center. They were making an investigation of the taxi industry, he said. The official’s assistance would be invaluable.Wang also happened to mention his previous career as a clerical secretary to a provincial official in Gansu province. All of this was true, of course. Wang had worked as a low-level official in Gansu. China Economic Times was published by the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, which was looking into problems in the taxi industry. At that moment, the most effective means of gaining the official’s cooperation was for Wang to de-emphasize his role as a reporter and accentuate his role as part of the system.It worked.The district official waved his staff into action and issued a local order for all taxi companies in his district to cooperate in Wang Keqin's investigation. In a convoy of official sedans, Wang was whisked off to the first of several interviews. Before long, he was seated comfortably in a conference room, where the polished table was laid out with green tea and fresh fruit.The deputy transportation director of Pinggu officiated as Wang was treated to an account of the company's establishment, its methods of operation and other details. They repeated the routine at several other companies, where bosses spoke with surprising frankness about how they had taken advantage of city regulations to manipulate taxi drivers and drive up their own profits.The reporters, the editors and their environmentThree month's into his story, Wang Keqin was now able to document the fact that Beijing's more than 200,000 taxi drivers had been systematically mistreated as a direct result of city regulations, which empowered taxi companies to levy a whole range of fees on the income of taxi drivers, most notably the so-called "taxi portions".Taxi drivers worked cruelly long hours just to scrape together a living. On average they worked 585 full-time workdays each year, calculated on the basis of China's eight-hour workday. This meant working 12-13 hour shifts every single day. Still, they earned an average of just 1,817 yuan a month, less than half Beijing's monthly per capita income as reported in the latest government statistics.Wang Keqin also discovered that many taxi companies had been formed through the privatization of state assets. But these assets were simply appropriated, never paid for. Plainly speaking, the assets had been stolen, in most cases by city officials, with the blessing of city officials. Demanding anonymity, a high-level manager from one company detailed for Wang the process by which state assets had been shifted to the company owner.Another offshoot of poor regulation was the loss of potential tax revenues for the state, Wang Keqin said. While companies got of scott free, they charged their drivers exorbitant fees. If, instead, companies across China had paid taxes to the state for the country's more than 800 thousand taxis at, say, 1,500 yuan per vehicle each year, tax revenues would have totaled some 14 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion). Wang Keqin based these numbers on "taxi portions", not even taking into account the huge pay-outs taxi companies made each year to grease the palms of government officials. An accountant from one taxi company said they paid hundreds of thousands of yuan each year in "gratuities" to officials at the transportation department. "This is how all of the companies do it," he said.Wang's findings also suggested the Chinese public had also borne some of the cost in the form of higher taxi fares. The levying of unreasonable taxi portions was the primary cause of regular rises in taxi fares. According to Wang calculations, fares could drop by between 30 and 40 percent if competition were introduced and drivers allowed to operate their own cars.Wang Keqin completed his investigative report the middle of September. Once the draft was in the hands of his editors, the fight was to ensure the story was printed without being gutted first. As it implicated city officials in Beijing, China’s political heart, China Economic Times had to weigh the risks of the story carefully. Timing was the first issue. The inaugural session of the Sixteenth Party Congress was just days away, and political sensitivities were always heightened in the run-up to such meetings, as officials worried negative press coverage might sabotage their prospects. It was not uncommon for news reports to simply disappear at such times.But this was a particularly sensitive time. There was widespread anticipation President Jiang Zemin would hand the reigns over to Hu Jintao. There was also speculation that an important official from Beijing's Party committee would take a new position within the politburo, China’s group of elite leaders. It was not the most opportune moment to sully the city government's reputation. China Economic Times' directorial board, comprising the paper's chairman, editor-in-chief, and deputy editor-in-chief, were justifiably concerned printing Wang's article might put their own positions and the paper’s future at risk. There were no precedents from which to take their bearings. No local Beijing media in recent memory had risked such a sensitive and comprehensive report. Considering the dangers but not wanting to spike Wang's report, the board proposed it be edited into seven sections and printed serially. Wang Keqin was adamantly against it, saying this would just "send up a red flag". The first section would likely bring a firestorm of official outrage, and the other six sections would be spiked. The board members eventually came around to Wang's position, but printing the report now was simply not an option. They had no choice but to wait for the right opportunity.Wang's report had to be safeguarded in the meantime. Espionage was a clear and present danger. There was no way of knowing whether a staff member, disgruntled or with other interests, might tip off the right person and draw attention to the story's existence. So Wang's work and related records were expunged from the newspaper's computer system.Wang Keqin would have to wait more than two months for his article to surface on the pages of China Economic Times. In the meantime, he worked behind the scenes, pressing experts and commentators to prepare supporting articles that could run alongside his report when the time came. The chief purpose of this was to bolster the credibility of his report by attaching respected opinions to it. This kind of preemption can be an effective way of hedging political risk to the newspaper and the journalist. Xu Hui, an expert economist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pitched in with a 4,000-word commentary looking at the taxi industry as just one of many illustrations of the drastic consequences of poor regulation. It was called, “A Classic Case of Regulatory Failure”. Columnists at China Economic Times put together a similar criticism. Wang, meanwhile, patched together material from interviews with academics on the issue of failed regulation, writing a piece called, "What the Experts Say". All of these contributions were the product of Wang's own effort to safeguard his story. They were eventually published in the same issue as his report. China Economic Times took its own measures to offset the risk of a libel suit. In the event a lawsuit did arise, it would be impossible to face the Beijing city government on its own turf where it could undoubtedly manipulate the outcome. In the middle of November, the paper called its editorial board together to discuss the final version of the article. The group comprised the three members of the directorial board and four of the paper’s top editors.At the same time, they consulted their lawyer over the final version. He combed carefully through the facts in Wang's report, checking them against the pile of documentation Wang had gathered. "I don't see any legal pitfalls here", he said finally, turning to the members of the editorial board. "The evidence is formidable."Responsibility for the final changes was given to Wang Keqin, who delivered a printed, staple-bound copy to the editor-in-chief, Bao Yueyang.Bao had already recognized Wang's article was perfectly in line with the policy goals set at the recently concluded session of the Party Congress, where one of the predominant themes had been the urgent need for regulatory reform.But the battle was not yet over among the paper's top editors, who continued to voice their fears about possible political fallout from the article. Their primary concern was the potential for social unrest. If protests or any form of social unrest followed on the heels of report, the newspaper could be in serious trouble. In all likelihood, it would be shut down and letters of self-criticism forced from its staff.Wang assured the board members local taxi drivers would not hold demonstrations of any kind. "I know these guys well," he said, "and I don’t think that's how they will respond." Wang also tried to dispel any lingering fears about the accuracy of his report by providing more evidence, including written statements signed by taxi drivers.The editorial board deliberated for days on the best course of action. They decided eventually to draft an "article release" to be signed by all seven members of board members. By this time, the release process, by which editors signed off on news pieces, had been automated at China Economic Times. Drafting a physical "article release" was a more formal way for the board to stand behind Wang's report while keeping it out of the computer network. The final version went to Bao Yueyang's office with six signatures. Bao added his own. "The Inside Story on the Beijing Taxi Cartel" was ready to run.As Wang's article ran off the presses that night, Bao Yueyang posted a message of solidarity to China Economic Times' bulletin board system (BBS): "This story, following the report on securities fraud in Lanzhou, is the second missile Wang Keqin has fired at corrupt government. For a story as truthful as this one it is only right for us to run a bit of risk."Finally, on December 6, 2002, the China Economic Times issue featuring Wang’s report was delivered to newsstands all over China.The AftermathAt point of sale the success of Wang's report was instantaneous. In Beijing, copies of China Economic Times sold in some places for as much as 10 yuan (US$1.25) despite its one yuan cover price. In Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, copies sold for as high as 50 yuan (US$6).Within hours the report was on the Web., on of China's top sites, logged an all-time record for online readers of a single news story.The office of China Economic Times was barraged with phone calls from readers and taxi drivers wanting to thank the newspaper for a job well done. Scores of taxi drivers pulled up in front of the office to personally offer their thanks and congratulations. Wang Keqin even received calls from several taxi company managers who wanted to come clean with their own experiences.City officials hardly shared the enthusiasm. The transportation department issued an order against taxi drivers reading China Economic Times, and several newsstands around the city called the newsroom to say government agencies were buying up copies. At least one newsstand, at Beijing's Capital International Airport, had already been shut down for carrying the paper.By evening Wang's report had suddenly been yanked from all major Web portals, including and State propaganda officials sent notices to all media saying they were not to excerpt the story or do their own follow-up reports.In the days that followed, taxi drivers quoted in Wang's report said they had received death threats from both taxi companies and government offices. Several drivers had already been approached with offers to officially retract their statements in exchange for cash and expedited approval of their Beijing residency papers. Wang Keqin had already prepared himself mentally for threats of this kind, which unfortunately were nothing new to him. China Economic Times had also made arrangements for his safety by assigning two staff members as his personal security detail. For three months, these chaperons were at Wang’s side whenever he left the office or his apartment.Fortunately, thanks in part to the reporter's own effort, Wang's was not the only voice on the issue. Xu Hui's commentary said Wang's report highlighted a "classic case of regulatory failure". "It remains to be seen what impact, if any, the report will have on the city's handling of the industry. But the article will clearly go down as a historic chapter in China's effort to achieve regulatory reform," Xu wrote.In a China Daily editorial appearing soon after Wang's report, well-known columnist Ma Li called the article "a fine example of watchdog journalism." Once again, he said, the report had exposed an industry in dire need of reform.On December 14, Vice-premier Wen Jiabao issued an official response to Wang's report: "The troubles in our taxi industry can no longer be ignored. Government agencies are ordered to review the issue and propose reforms."By the beginning of 2003, Premier Zhu Rongji had been handed an official report pointing to severe problems in the taxi industry and "relevant government agencies" had reportedly begun the drafting of reform proposals. Wang Keqin was a part of this effort, cooperating with Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to draft a new regulatory framework for the industry.The editors at China Economic Times viewed Wang's report as a major success for the newspaper. Wen Jiabao's public call for reform seemed the surest sign of its impact.State officials, however, wished to make it plain they wanted the newspaper to avoid similar stunts in the future. Later that year, when China Economic Times submitted a request to propaganda officials to adjust its publication frequency, this was swiftly denied. The answer came back: "Who said you could do a report about Beijing's taxi industry?"IMPORTANT PLAYERS:Wang Keqin (王克勤) – Veteran investigative reporter for China Economic Times and native of Gansu province who looks into the mistreatment of Beijing taxi drivers under poor regulation by city officials.Bao Yueyang (包月阳) – Editor-in-chief of China Economic Times. Wang Nan (王南) – Weekend section editor for China Economic Times who assigns Wang Keqin to the taxi story.Guo Lihong (郭励弘) – Head of economics and technology division at the Development Research Center of China’s State Council and author of the report on Beijing’s taxi industry that begins Wang’s investigation. Zhang Lei (张磊) – A publicity officer at Beijing’s transportation department, Zhang constantly stonewalls Wang Keqin’s attempts to reach officials there for comment.Zhang Yansheng (张燕生) – Director of the taxi management office of Beijing’s transportation department and also owner of a local taxi company. Zhang has Wang Keqin thrown out of a meeting with local taxi drivers.TIMELINE:June 28, 2002 – At a Friday editorial meeting for China Economic Times’ weekend section Wang Keqin is assigned to a story about corruption in Beijing’s local taxi industry. Wang spends the next three months gathering evidence from taxi drivers, taxi companies and more than 30 government offices.October 2002 – Editors at China Economic Times decide to put off publication of Wang Keqin’s completed report until meetings marking the opening of the Sixteenth Party Congress have concluded. December 6, 2002 – China Economic Times runs in full Wang’s report on the taxi industry, which is more than 30,000 words long. Within 14 hours, state propaganda officials issue orders to all media against excerpting the article or doing their own follow-up stories.December 14, 2002 – China’s vice-premier, Wen Jiabao, issues an official response to Wang’s report, saying the government must move toward reform of the taxi industry.


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