90 Miles From Tyranny : VOA Fires Two More Reporters for Chinese Dissident Interview

Thursday, May 23, 2019

VOA Fires Two More Reporters for Chinese Dissident Interview

Critics say official U.S. radio caved to Chinese pressure

The official Voice of America radio has fired two more reporters for their role in a broadcast interview with a dissident Chinese billionaire amid charges radio executives caved to Chinese government pressure in canceling the broadcast midstream.

Fred Wang and Robert Li, veteran VOA reporters with the Chinese language branch, were notified May 15 by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the entity in charge of VOA, that they were terminated as a result of the 2017 interview with Guo Wengui.

Guo is an exiled Chinese billionaire living in New York who has been targeted by Beijing through cyberattacks and influence and propaganda campaigns aimed at discrediting his anti-Chinese Communist Party activities. Pressure from Beijing forced Twitter, Facebook, and Google to block his access to social media.

Beijing also has enlisted American business leaders with ties to China to try and force Guo's repatriation, including casino magnate Steve Wynn, who provided President Trump with a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping asking Trump to forcibly send Guo back to China.

Earlier, the USAGM fired Sasha Gong, VOA's Mandarin language division chief who arranged the April 17 live interview with Guo. Guo once had access to intimate details of high-level corruption within the Chinese Communist Party and has been revealing them in online broadcasts for the past two years.

The Guo interview had been scheduled for three hours but was cut off after an hour and 19 minutes following protests from the Chinese Embassy in Washington to VOA and the State Department.

The VOA did not respond to an email request for comment on the latest firings.

In the past, a spokesman for the radio agency denied VOA caved to Chinese government pressure and claimed the interview violated their guidelines.

Gong was dismissed for failing to follow orders and failing to supervise others in following orders. Wang was fired for failing to follow orders and for broadcasting a short video clip provide by Guo that VOA had directed not be aired. Li was fired for not cutting off the interview when directed by a...

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