BBG Watch Commentary
Chinese Americans, former Chinese dissidents, Chinese students and media freedom activists in the Washington, DC area have staged a demonstration in front of the Voice of America (VOA) building near the Capital Hill, protesting against the decision of VOA’s upper management to cut short a live interview with Chinese businessman whistleblower Guo Wengui while he was discussing evidence of corruption among Communist Party officials in China.
The decision to cut the interview short was reportedly made by VOA director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara. The decision to limit the program was reached after the Chinese government protested against VOA interviewing Mr. Guo. Both Ms. Bennett and Ms. Sugawara are Obama administration holdovers as is their hands-off boss, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John F. Lansing.
Sasha Gong, Fred Wang and other editors and reporters in the VOA Mandarin Service strongly resisted the upper management’s relentless attempts to cut short the interview, several sources told BBG Watch. They tried to keep the program live and demanded that the management issue the order to cut the interview short in writing. When the order came they had no choice but to comply but did so under a strong protest.
While the VOA management denies caving in to pressure from the Chinese government and insists they were only concerned with upholding journalistic standards — their explanation seen as an insult by many VOA China Branch and other journalists — many Chinese viewers of the VOA program see it as a betrayal of trust with the Chinese audience and evidence of VOA backing away from American values of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Here are two typical comments which include statements seen in the signs held by the protesters in front of the Voice of America headquarters.
1. Freedom of Speech
April 25, 2017 at 1:07 am
[…]It is very sad to see this event happened. When I watched the live VOA Guo Wengui interview program, the program was suddenly cut off. I felt Democracy died in America. Voice of America was the symbol of freedom and democracy. It represented the values of United States: freedom of press and freedom of speech. The cut-short program stopped the Voice of Freedom and Democracy. Today’s VOA is not the VOA I listened to during my youth years in China. It has become the Shame of America: Voice of Silence.
April 27, 2017 at 9:54 am
When I saw the sudden cutting short of the 3 hour direct broadcasting which VOA announced for several days in advance and promised before and during the program , I said VOA is done for! They are scared to death by the Chinese government !
What made me more scornful of the decision makers was their next day’s explanation read by the lady wearing a white flower . The explanation is a typical lie! Its wording is very similar to the speeches of those disgraceful spokesmen/spokeswomen of Chinese Foreign ministry!
Shame on VOA!
3. J. Zhang
April 28, 2017 at 5:30 am
When I heard Sasha Gong and Fred Wang say: “because of special reasons we must stop our interview…”, my feeling was exactly as same as when I heard the announcement of the Chinese communist government on the eve of 04.06.1989. Tears were in my eyes. I just don’t know if it was for Mr. Guo’s fate, the deaths of 04.06.89, or for the death of VOA –because VOA was my beacon through all the dark nights when I was in China.
MORE IN PART I
Voice of America China Guo Wengui Part I
Asleep at the Wheel – A Commentary
MORE IN PART II
All Hell Broke Loose — A Commentary
MORE IN PART III
VOA China Fought Mgmt Push To Limit Guo Wengui Interview — Part III
Reputation Damaged — A Commentary
READ MORE: POLICIES & POLITICS Plug pulled on US interview with wanted Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, Robert Delaney, US correspondent, South China Morning Post, UPDATED : Thursday, 20 Apr 2017, 10:48PM
READ MORE: CUSIB Asks for Investigation About Why VOA China Service Cut Live-Stream Interview with Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui, CUSIB, April 21, 2017
READ MORE: CUSIB concerned about partisanship and mismanagement at BBG and VOA, CUSIB, April 21, 2017