Even in Chinese Press, Probe Into John Liu’s Campaign Finances Called a ‘Scandal’

Community and ethnic media outlets have been split on how to portray City Comptroller John Liu's campaign troubles. (Photo by Mohsin Zaheer/Feet in Two Worlds)

As City Comptroller John Liu tries to get his mayoral campaign back on track after news of an F.B.I. investigation into his campaign’s fundraising methods, some in the Chinese-American press have debated how to describe his predicament and whether to call it a “scandal.”

Last week, Feet in Two Worlds’ Executive Producer John Rudolph interviewed Rong Xiaoqing of the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily in a podcast (above). They discussed what led to the paper’s decision to switch from calling Liu’s troubles an “incident” to calling them a “scandal.”

On January, another article in Feet in Two Worlds compared coverage in the English-language and Chinese-language press of Liu’s campaign troubles and noted that Chinese newspapers had up until then avoided characterizing Liu’s situation as a “scandal.” That was before Liu’s campaign treasurer, Jia (Jenny) Hou, was arrested in February, accused of funneling political contributions to the campaign by illegally using straw donors.

Sing Tao Daily reporter Stella Chan defended Asian-American publications for their coverage, and said it is the mainstream press that has presented a biased view. An article in The Epoch Times, however, accused the Chinese newspapers of going easy on Liu, and implied that those newspapers — and Liu himself — are pawns of the ruling Chinese Community Party.

Although Liu has not been officially accused of any wrongdoing, the questions around his campaign’s fundraising may hurt the comptroller’s bid to become the city’s first Asian-American mayor.

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