Sunday, 13 July 2014

Star Anchor in Corruption Probe

CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang was detained by authorities on Friday
The corruption net has widened in China to include a well-known anchor from China Central Television.

Rui Chenggang was taken away by the authorities on Friday from the CCTV premises, leaving his Economic News co-anchor Xie Yingying to host the show on her own that evening.

The routine camera angles continued, with shots of Rui's empty seat, though his microphone was there. Seems like no one in the control room knew how to deal with Rui's sudden departure.

In addition to taking away the 36-year-old, prosecutors also rounded up Li Yong, deputy director of CCTV's financial news channel and an unnamed producer.

This trio isn't the only group of people from CCTV caught up in investigations -- other high-profile figures at the state media have also been detained, including senior executive Guo Zhenxi last month.

Interestingly auditors found over 1 million yuan in Rui's office, but it was unclear if the money was related to his detention. Perhaps he was planning to take it to Brazil where he had planned to cover Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to South America and the BRICS summit? Too much speculation at this point.

After Guo was taken away in early June, there were rumours Rui was implicated into the investigation into Guo, but Rui denied this. Instead he continued to host his show and even posted pictures on his Weibo account interviewing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on June 3.

If Rui is formally arrested, this will signal the downfall of one of China's most prominent young rising stars. He is fluent in English and apparently has a taste for Ermenegildo Zegna suits, and drives a Jaguar.

A biography on the CCTV English-language website said Rui had interviewed more than 30 heads of state, and more than 300 top executives of Fortune 500 companies.

In 2005 then Yale University President Richard C. Levin nominated Rui to be a Yale World Fellow, and Levin even wrote the introduction to the anchor's book called Life Begins at 30, on China's economic rise.

Two years later Rui gained notoriety when he used his blog to campaign the government to remove a branch of Starbucks from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It was later replaced with a Chinese cafe.

In 2010 Rui became the subject of Internet mockery over a comment he made when US President Barack Obama called for questions from the Korean news media at a Group of 20 summit meeting in South Korea.

"I'm actually Chinese, but I think I get to represent the whole of Asia," he said.

The next year he point blank asked then incoming US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, "I hear you flew here coach. Is that a reminder that the US owes China money?"

Locke replied it was standard practice for American diplomats and other American officials to fly economy.

In some aspects, Rui's character may represent China today -- ambition, conniving, patriotism, and hubris.

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