Menu

Home » Fake Quotes»

Hong Kong journalist Liu Yi quit the South Morning China Post because she says the newspaper changed her interview with Jack Ma, pictured above.(Credit: AllThingsD, screenshot)

Hong Kong journalist Liu Yi quit the South China Morning Post alleging the newspaper changed quotes from an interview, The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade reported.  Liu says the newspaper added in comments to suggest her source, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, was comparing his company’s business decisions to decisions made in the June 4, 1989 Tienanmen Square protest.

South China Morning Post identifies itself as “Hong Kong’s premier English language newspaper, delivering news and analysis on Hong Kong, China and the rest of Asia.”

But Ma says the interview “did not reflect what I told the reporter” and his company, the Alibaba Group said it appeared the newspaper “quoted improperly,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a weird sequence of events, the reporter, Liu, logged into the Morning Post’s administrative side of the website and “re-edited” the story to fix the disputed comments. The newspaper editors then logged in to “re-edit” the comments, and suspended her. But then she resigned her job, according to the South China Morning Post’s statement about Liu’s actions.  The newspaper added that it “continues to stand by the original article” and that despite Liu’s resignation, the paper “will continue with our in-house inquiry.”

The quote, according to Reuters, that Ma challenges is:

“As CEO of a company, whether it be regarding the Alibaba incident (a 2011 incident involving fraud) or the spin-off of Alipay, it is like Deng Xiaoping on June 4th [date of Tienanmen Square]. As the country’s most senior decision-maker, he had to be stable and he had to make cruel decisions. It was not the perfect decision, but it was the best decision, and it was the best decision at that time.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ma said of the disputed comments: “I was trying to describe the circumstances under which I made tough decisions when I was CEO of the company.” Likewise,  on Facebook in Chinese, Liu apologized to Ma and said that “Ma never intended to make any comments about politics,” according to Reuters.

You May Also Like...

Sun Crime Reporter denies paying police, Prosecution drops Second Charge

Both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that they reviewed transcripts or recordings of the interview, which confirm Ma’s company’s claim that the Morning Post changed the context of Ma’s comments by editing out a phrase.  The Wall Street Journal explained that the transcript of the interview shows Ma said “Like I said last time, it was not the perfect decision, but it was the best decision, and it was the best decision at that time.”

With that phrase “like I said last time,” Ma was describing an incident at the Alibaba Group in which he had to “ask for the resignation of Alibaba.com CEO David Wei in 2011,” Reuters reported an Alibaba spokesperson explained. With that context, the quote would have read (emphasis ours):

“As CEO of a company, whether it be regarding the Alibaba incident (a 2011 incident involving fraud) or the spin-off of Alipay, it is like Deng Xiaoping on June 4th [date of Tienanmen Square]. As the country’s most senior decision-maker, he had to be stable and he had to make cruel decisions. Like I said last time, it was not the perfect decision, but it was the best decision, and it was the best decision at that time.”

iMediaEthics reached out to the Alibaba Group for more information including to ask if Alibaba Group has requested a formal correction and if the group has received any explanation from the reporter. John Spelich, the Vice President of International Corporate Affairs for the Alibaba Group, told iMediaEthics by email:  “The most recent Reuters and Wall Street Journal pieces speak for themselves as to what happened and we have no further comment at this time.”

The interview is published on South China Morning Post‘s website but it is in Chinese.

Update: 7/24/2013 10:02 AM EST: Added info about South China Morning Post

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Hong Kong Journalist Quits, Says South China Morning Post Tampered with Her Quotes

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *