Beijing: A leading TV anchor with China’s state broadcaster has suddenly vanished from the screen after being arrested.
Viewers watching an economics programme on China Central Television (CCTV) on Friday saw only an empty chair with an unused microphone where Rui Chenggang normally sits. Instead, the show was hosted by his fellow presenter.
Rui, who is regarded as something of a celebrity journalist, appears to have been detained by prosecutors investigating allegations of corruption at China’s predominant state television broadcaster, which is one of the communist party’s primary propaganda outlets.
Two months ago, CCTV’s financial news director Guo Zhenxi was detained over bribery allegations, and Rui is thought to be close to Guo.
Rui, 37, is a polished TV performer who has interviewed heads of state and many major business executives. He is enormously popular in China with more than 10m microblog followers.
In 2007, he became famous for protesting at the presence of a Starbucks outlet in Beijing’s Forbidden City. He fomented a campaign that led to Starbucks pulling out.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, a PR company once owned by Rui, called Pegasus, has business ties with CCTV.
It is said to have won several contracts for programmes on CCTV’s finance channel. Its deputy director, Li Yong, and a producer, Qian Xi, were also arrested on Friday, according to a Chinese news portal, Caixin Online.
Qian, who has worked closely with Rui for more 10 years, once compared Rui to CNN’s former chat show host Larry King.