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Sasha Gong, Voice of America’s Mandarin Service Chief who has been suspended by VOA director Amanda Bennett, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “How China Managed to Muffle the Voice of America.”
The full version of the op-ed is behind the Wall Street Journal pay wall. In her op-ed, Ms. Gong makes several new points about the Voice of America management’s decision to shorten a planned three-hour live interview with Chinese businessman turned whistleblower Guo Wengui. Mr. Guo intended to reveal to VOA’s audience in China details of corruption among Chinese Communist Party officials and the spying activities and influence buying abroad by the Chinese Ministry of National Security, or Guo An, the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet KGB.
SASHA GONG: “On April 17 the Chinese government issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Guo without making public any details of his alleged crimes. That same day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned VOA’s Beijing correspondent and complained that the interview constituted interference in China’s internal affairs.”
“A few hours later, the VOA’s top management in Washington asked me to cancel the live interview.”
“After much back and forth, they allowed us to do the interview but ordered our producer to let it run no longer than 15 minutes.”
“Ultimately, we broadcast live with Mr. Guo for one hour and 19 minutes before Washington pulled the plug.”
READ MORE: How China Managed to Muffle the Voice of America: The Foreign Ministry warned VOA’s Beijing correspondent against ‘interference.’ By Sasha Gong, Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2017.
The shortening of the live interview with Guo Wengui was ordered by Voice of America director Amanda Bennett, one of several Obama administration holdovers in the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) agency. Her decision has caused a catastrophic drop in VOA’s reputation and credibility in China as seen in thousands of angry and sarcastic comments from Chinese web users.
Chinese Americans have organized protest demonstrations in front of the VOA building in Washington, DC.
It appears that the Trump administration had nothing to do with Ms. Bennett’s decision to shorten the interview. The Voice of America director denies that she caved in to pressure from the Chinese government. Ms. Bennett said that she was only concerned with upholding high standards of journalism by giving Chinese communist party officials an advance opportunity to respond to any allegations from Mr. Guo.
Ms. Bennett reports to Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John Lansing who is also an Obama administration selectee. Under their watch, some VOA reporters and language services have posted multiple one-sided allegations against U.S. political figures without any balance, challenge or advance requests for a response. Some of these one-sided reports received praise from the VOA director. Most of these attacks were on Donald Trump and his immigration policy, but Senator Bernie Sanders was also a target of a one-sided attack in a VOA posted commentary when he ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016.
Wei Jingsheng, an internationally known leader in the 1978 Chinese Democracy Wall Movement, former political prisoner in China for 18 years and winner of the 1994 Olof Palme Prize and the 1996 Sakharov Prize has called for a completely independent investigation of the VOA senior management’s decision to shorten the Guo Wengui interview. There have been also other calls for an independent investigation of the VOA and BBG management’s handling of the interview.