On March 4, 2016, The media Watching in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region published an open letter, “A Request for Comrade Xi Jinping to Resign from Leadership Positions in the Party and the State.” The article blamed Xi Jinping for many negative events in China in the past few years and called for him to step down. The article was later removed.
It is rare to see a media in China challenge its leader.
Watching claimed that article was posted by a hacker, but there were questions whether that was the case. Alibaba, the hosting service for Watching, is considered the “safest” hosting service in China. The state Cyberspace Administration didn’t find any sign of a hacker intrusion either.
Some media suspected that Watching published the article on its own to attack Xi. Watching’s website was shut down for several days. The authorities took a few employees to investigate the case.
Watching was a joint venture of the SEEC Media Group Limited (the parent company of Caijing magazine), the Xinjiang Government, and the Alibaba Group.
Mingjing You Bao (Mingjing Post) published an article revealing the officials behind the Watching media article:
Jiang Jianguo (蒋建国), the Deputy Director of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Propaganda Department: Watching‘s CEO Ouyang Hongliang is a confidant of Jiang Jianguo. Jiang approved the establishment of Watching. Jiang and Ling Jihua may be connected since both of them got their part-time Master’s degree from Hunan University.
Zhang Chunxian (张春贤), is the Xinjiang Party Secretary. Zhou Yongkang promoted Zhang to that position: Zhang also had a good relationship with Zhou Benshun as both of them were from Hunan. Zhou Benshun was Zhou Yongkang’s loyalist. He once served as the Secretary-General of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee where Zhou Yongkang was the head.
Wang Boming (王波明), the Chairman of the SEEC Media Group Limited: Wang has a brother, Wang Dongming, who is the former Chairman of CITIC Securities. Wang Dongming was forced to resign after many high ranking officers at CITIC Securities were taken down for their involvement in the stock disaster in 2015.
Liu Lefei (刘乐飞), Vice Chairman of CITIC Securities: Liu is the son of Liu Yunshan who is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and in charge of the propaganda work for the CCP.
1. Mingjing, March 20, 2016
2. Wengewang.org, March 4, 2016
3. Epoch Times, March 10, 2016