by WorldTribune Staff, November 15, 2017
Three employees at Voice of America (VOA) said the government radio broadcaster is seeking their dismissals for insubordination following their interview with Chinese dissident Guo Wengui.
The three workers, Sasha Gong, Fred Wang, and Robert Li, were notified in letters Nov. 3 that VOA planned to fire them allegedly for insubordination and violating the radio’s reporting rules, security correspondent Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Free Beacon on Nov. 15.
VOA suspended four employees in April after the Chinese government pressured the broadcaster and the U.S. State Department to cancel a live interview with Guo, an exiled billionaire living in New York who has exposed high-level corruption in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The three-hour live interview with Guo was cut short after one hour and twenty minutes on orders from senior VOA leaders.
The Free Beacon first reported the incident on May 23.
Gong, who was chief of VOA’s China division, told the Free Beacon that those facing dismissal will appeal the decision.
“VOA cited ‘insubordination’ as the reason to fire me,” she said. “There are two facts they never mention. One, my interview plan was approved by the management. It was the management who wanted to change the plan under the pressure of the Chinese government.”
“I firmly believe that the VOA management caved into the pressure of the Chinese government,” Gong said. “It is absurd that Voice of America, a federal agency, would listen to Beijing, and join forces with the Chinese communists to persecute journalists.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, questioned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on June 13, noting that “the Chinese government got very upset about this interview.”
“The concern is basically that we cannot allow geopolitical pressures from China to influence our ability to broadcast truth, and particularly in that language, in Mandarin,” Rubio said. “And so, obviously we want to understand whether that’s what happened or not.”
Rubio also questioned if the State Department was sought to shut down the Guo interview to appease China and also if it is supporting a $4.5 million cut in funding for Mandarin language broadcasts by Radio Free Asia, a semi-official broadcaster.
“I can confirm that to my knowledge, it had nothing to do with our relations with China,” Tillerson said.