Planet China

Stop press

Stop press

China may not have freedom of the press, but in Shanxi, if you pretend to be from the press, you are free to make money. The Chongqing Evening News reports that villages in the coal mining areas around Xinzhou City have discovered that they can make a lucrative living by passing themselves off as investigative journalists.

In an imaginative move, they have been visiting illegal mines in the area and telling the bosses that they are reporters from a newspaper called Legal Information Perspective. They then threaten to write an article unless they receive ‘travel expenses’ to hush them up, typically of Rmb500. If the boss fails to pay up, they still get their man – usually by reporting him to the local authorities. The newspaper says the most expert extorters come from Shenshan. Apparently most of the villagers used to work in coal transportation “so they are familiar with the mysteries of illegal coal mining, meaning their attempts at extortion have been unfailingly successful.”

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