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China detains star anchor over graft probe

Beijing, July 13 (Reuters): Prosecutors detained a top Chinese news anchor shortly before a nightly broadcast, state media reported, as authorities extend anti-corruption efforts deeper into the country’s media industry.

Rui Chenggang, the popular host of financial news programs on China Central Television (CCTV), was taken away from his studio on Friday, ruling Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said on its Twitter account yesterday night.

Rui’s detention, along with the network’s vice-director of financial news Li Yong, comes a little more than a month after officials announced an investigation into suspected bribery by his boss.

The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since the appointment last year of President Xi Jinping, who has said widespread graft threatens the party’s survival.

An indication of the suddenness of Rui’s detention, a second microphone appeared on the set of Friday night’s “Economic News” broadcast, though it was anchored only by Rui’s co-host, reported the financial news site Caixin.com.

Rui, 36, is one of China’s most prominent business journalists, whose strongly nationalist stances and controversial remarks have helped make him a celebrity.

His prominence in China grew in 2007, after his comments on a Starbucks located in Beijing’s ancient Forbidden City helped spur a public outcry that led the coffee chain to close the branch.

CCTV network is viewed by the government as an enormously influential and useful propaganda tool abroad, and at home where Beijing keeps a tight rein on domestic media.

Critics have long pointed to corruption within the ranks at state media.

 
 
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