Dec 5, 2023

Another Reporter has Vanished in China Transcript

Another Reporter has Vanished in China Transcript
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Veteran Hong Kong-based journalist Minnie Chan vanished in Beijing after covering a global defense forum. Read the transcript here.

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Erin Burnett (00:00):

Tonight, vanished, an award-winning journalist based in Hong Kong has gone missing after a reporting trip to Beijing. Journalist Minnie Chan’s reporting has tackled sensitive subjects including the Chinese military and Taiwan. And now, her friends and colleagues fear that she may be the latest unexplained disappearance in China. Will Ripley is out front.

Will Ripley (00:22):

Intrigue, uncertainty, and one burning question. What happened to Minnie Chan? The Hong Kong journalist on assignment in Beijing last month vanished into thin air. Chan was in the Chinese capital covering a global defense forum. It ended on October 31st. Soon after, she dropped off the radar. Her last report published November 1st.

Delving into China’s controversial role as mediator in the Gaza conflict, publicly siding with Palestinians over Israel, radio silence ever since. Friends trying to reach Chan on social media hitting a brick wall. Mounting messages of concern, not a single known reply.

On November 11th, a mysterious post on Chan’s Facebook page, personal photos, followed by a flood of concerned comments. One from a friend and fellow journalist speculating someone else must have posted the pictures. Eerie silence from Chan fueling a frenzy of speculation. She may be under the microscope of Chinese authorities.

A veteran reporter, nearly two decades at the South China Morning Post, it’s had no direct contact with her. In a statement, the paper says it did speak with Chan’s family. “Her family told us she’s safe,” the paper said. Writing she’s on personal leave in Beijing handling a private matter. “We have no further information to disclose,” the family told the paper. Those who know her strongly believe there’s more to the story.

China’s foreign ministry telling reporters they’re not aware of the situation. Known for astute coverage of China’s defense and diplomacy, Chan interviewed a host of high ranking Chinese officials, tackling touchy topics like Beijing’s military strategy targeting Taiwan. Chan also worked for Apple Daily, raided two years ago by 500 Hong Kong police officers. A government crackdown forced the paper to close. You want people to have the right.

I interviewed Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily’s billionaire owner shortly before his arrest, along with other newsroom leaders. Later charged under Hong Kong’s draconian National Security Law, which rolled back civil and political freedoms drafted in secret, imposed by Beijing’s communist rulers, China’s heavy-handed response to the fiery pro-democracy protests of 2019.

In the years since, a crackdown on pro-democracy figures, the disbanding of political parties and newsrooms, activists forced to choose between a life in prison at home, or a life in exile abroad. And now, the mystery of Minnie Chan raising new fears for the safety of reporters. If a seasoned journalist from a mainstream outlet can disappear in Beijing, who’s next in line for China’s vanishing act?

This is not the first veteran journalist to disappear in China. There was an Australian Chinese news anchor named Cheng Lei, who was just released after three years in prison. Her crime, she had a briefing with government officials and she broke their embargo by a few minutes. She talked about it on the air a few minutes, a few minutes before she was allowed to. Three years in a tiny shell with the lights on 24/7 and just 10 hours of sunshine a year, Erin.

Erin Burnett (03:41):

Wow. Wow. All right. Thank you very much, Will Ripley. Stunning.

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