Wang Xiaolu was certainly looking pained after admitting his July 20, 2015 article in business magazine Caijing.Com was responsible for causing the stock market crash.
“During a sensitive period, I should not have published a report which had such a huge negative impact,” he admitted in an interview on the CCTV government station.
Whatever the merits of his case, Wang Xiaolu should have known the risks involved in stretching the limits of accepted digital culture.
What Wang Xiaolu Did & Where He Went Wrong
Journalists work within tight constraints and, unless they are on a personal mission should know the consequences of stepping outside the lines as happened in Egypt recently. At the time Wang Xiaolu made his post, the authorities were struggling to ride the stock-price tiger and bring chaos under control.
The social media were alive with speculation. Wang Xiaolu added to this by suggesting that the China Securities and Regulatory Commission (CSRC) was considering ceasing stabilizing share prices. This was in itself good investigative journalism. However, he overreached himself by not allowing the CSRC to respond.
Comments on the Response that Followed
There was no reaction from the Chinese government for a month, beyond denial of the post by the China Securities and Regulatory Commission calling it irresponsible. However, the Party chose to include him in a mop-up operation following the fallout from the Tianjin blasts and the ongoing stock crisis. And so Wang Xiaolu joined a motley group of 196 other citizens accused of spreading rumours.
Reporters without Borders RWB took a more parochial angle. condemning the arrest and calling for the release of Wang Xiaolu. While I agree with RWB that “suggesting that a business journalist was responsible for the spectacular fall in share prices is a denial of reality,” Wang Xiaolu should have known the attendant risks.