National Press Club Leadership Signs Open Letter On Chinese Journalist Yuyu Dong

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Following is a statement from Eileen O’Reilly, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, on an open letter signed by leading journalists in support of Chinese journalist Yuyu Dong. Mr. Dong has been detained in Beijing for more than a year and was recently indicted on charges of espionage.

   “We have signed the letter below in support of Mr. Dong, a career journalist from China’s Guangming Daily who was swept up by Chinese authorities for having lunch with a Japanese diplomat, which is not a crime under Chinese law, and held for 18 months before his recent indictment for espionage. Mr. Dong is well known to western media and scholars, and this is also not a crime under Chinese law. He is not a spy. Mr. Dong is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime. We encourage other journalists to also sign the attached letter which was drafted by some of Mr. Dong’s Nieman colleagues.”

   Dong Yuyu Open Letter

   We are writing to express our concern about Dong Yuyu, a journalist at the leading Chinese newspaper Guangming Daily, who faces more than a decade in prison for what we believe are normal contacts with foreigners.

   On Feb. 21, 2022 Mr. Dong was detained by Chinese law enforcement officials while having lunch with an officer from the Japanese embassy. He has since been charged with espionage and his case referred to the court for trial. According to Chinese criminal court procedures, this means that a trial is pending, and the charges are fixed. Based on Chinese criminal law, the sentence could be more than ten years.

   According to family members familiar with Mr. Dong’s case, the evidence supporting the charges are his regular contact with diplomats as well as his fellowships and exchanges in the U.S. and Japan. No evidence has been presented to his legal team that Mr. Dong accepted bribes.

   Like many journalists around the world, Mr. Dong regularly met foreign diplomats, journalists, and academics. Some of us were among those he met in China. Our meetings were always transparent. We made our plans openly, often via WeChat, and we met at public restaurants because we wanted our contacts to be above-the-board.

   Others of us studied with Mr. Dong during some of his fellowships abroad, including a Nieman fellowship at Harvard (class of 2007). We valued his open, humorous and humane view of life and his insights into world questions. He was inquisitive, objective, and an excellent ambassador for China.

   Others of us are familiar with Mr. Dong’s pro-reform articles and books. He co-edited an important book that promoted rule of law, which for decades has been a government priority. His articles for the history journal “China Through The Ages” includes constructive calls for the Chinese government to address darker chapters in recent history, such as the Cultural Revolution. He also argued that China needs a republican form of government.

“All of us can attest to Mr. Dong’s high professional standards and ethics. We exchanged frank and open views about our countries and the world situation. Our exchanges were a normal part of what is sometimes called “people to people diplomacy,” something the Chinese government supports.

   We would like the Chinese government to reconsider the harsh charges that Mr. Dong faces. Meetings with people like Mr. Dong are essential if China and the rest of the world are to have productive, open, and stable relations. Meetings with foreign diplomats and journalists, as well as fellowships abroad, should not be construed as evidence of espionage, without calling into question the entire system of normal interactions between people in the world. Who would want to come to China to meet Chinese journalists, academics or diplomats if these meetings could be used as evidence that the Chinese side is committing espionage?

   All of us value our interactions with Chinese colleagues. Please make it possible for us and other foreigners to have contact with Chinese counterparts such as Mr. Dong without putting them at risk.”


The letter was signed by 120 journalists and academics including Bob Woodward, Jason Rezaian, Dexter Filkins, Ann Marie Lipinski, Bob Giles, Ed Wong, Ian Johnson, Nicholas Kristof, Erik Eckholm, John Pomfret, Matthew Pottinger.

Verified signatures as of May 2023:

Jassim Ahmad, Nieman Fellow ’17

Tomoko Ako, The University of Tokyo

Tangeni Amupadhi, Nieman Fellow ’07, currently owner and managing director of Insight Namibia magazine

Claudia Antunes, Nieman Fellow ’06, freelance journalist

Atsuto Anzai, The University of Tokyo

Fernando Berguido, Nieman Fellow ’11, Former Editor, La Prensa (Panama)

Michelle Boorstein, Nieman Fellow ’17, religion reporter, The Washington Post

Marcus Brauchli, North Base Media

Ian Buruma, Bard College, New York

Matthew Chapin, Duke University alumnus

Timothy Cheek, The University of British Columbia

I-Chung Chen, Academia Sinica

Donald Clarke, Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School

Kim Cloete, Nieman Fellow ’06, Journalist & Media Specialist, South Africa

Chris Cobler, Nieman Fellow ’06, Publisher and CEO, Fort Worth Report

Jerome A. Cohen, NYU Law School; Council on Foreign Relations

Lori Cohen, Nieman Fellow ’97

Maryclaire Dale, Nieman Fellow ’18

Georg Diez, Nieman Fellow ’17, The New Institute

Emily Dreyfuss, Nieman Fellow ’18, research fellow Shorenstein Center, Harvard University

Tyler Dukes, Nieman Fellow ’17, The News & Observer

Dustin Dwyer, Nieman Fellow ’18, Michigan Radio

Jennifer L. Eccleston, Foreign Correspondent

Erik Eckholm, Former Beijing Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Dorinda Elliott, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

Ken Endo, The University of Tokyo

Nancy Fenstemacher, Newton Public Schools-Beijing Jingshan School Executive Committee

Hannane Ferdjani, Nieman Fellow ’20, freelance journalist, Al-Jazeera, Ivory Coast

Renee Ferguson, Nieman Fellow ’07, investigative reporter, Chicago

Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University

Dexter Filkins, Nieman Fellow ’07, former Baghdad correspondent, The New York Times, now staff writer for The New Yorker

Leta Hong Fincher, adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University

Lois Fiore, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Jocelyn Ford, Journalist

Michael Fitzgerald, Nieman Fellow ’11, Harvard Public Health

John Garnaut, Garnaut Global

Bob Giles, Former Curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Eliza Griswold, Nieman Fellow ’07, freelance journalist for The New Yorker, Harper’s magazine and The New York Times Magazine

Ken Hamilton, Retired teacher, Newton Public Schools

Nancy Hearst, Harvard University

Evelyn Hernandez, Nieman Fellow ’07, former Editorial and Opinion Page Editor, El Diario-La Prensa, New York

Mauricio Herrera-Ulloa, Nieman Fellow ’07, former editor in chief, Semanario Universidad, and former Minister of Information of Costa Rica, now independent journalist and consultant.

Margaret Kriz Hobson, Nieman Fellow ’06, former reporter, National Journal

Wei-Hsiu Huang, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

Maiko Ichihara, Hitotsubashi University

Karl Idsvoog, Nieman Fellow ’83

Kalpana Jain, Nieman Fellow ’09, Senior Editor, The Conversation

Susan Jakes, Asia Society, ChinaFile Editor-in-Chief

Alagi Yorro Jallow, Nieman Fellow ’07

Aboubakr Jamal, Nieman Fellow ’07, former editor Le Journal Hebdomadaire (Morocco), now dean of the School of International Relations, American College of the Mediterranean, Aix en Provence

Damakant Jayshi, Nieman Fellow ’07, former reporter, The Kathmandu Post, now reporter/fact-checker, Snopes, Atlanta

Ian Johnson, Nieman Fellow ’07, senior fellow the Council on Foreign Relations

Jen Judson, 115th president of the National Press Club, former reporter at Politico, currently reporter at Defense News

Lenka Kabrhelova, Nieman Fellow ’18, Podcast Host, Seznam Zpravy

Pavel Kanygin, PS Media

Matt Karolian, Nieman Fellow ’18, Boston Globe, HarvardEXT

Shingo Kato, Keio University

Suwa Kazuyuki, University of Shizuoka

Michael Kovrig, International Crisis Group

Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

Juanita Leon, Nieman Fellow ’07, director, La Silla Vacia, Colombia

Ann Marie Lipinski, Curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Werner Lohe, Elected Official in Brookline, Massachusetts

Melissa Ludtke, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Rose Luqiu, Nieman Fellow ’07, former assignment editor at Phoenix Satellite Television, Hong Kong

William Martin, Cambridge Public Library

Andrea McCarren, Nieman Fellow ’07, former ABC and NBC News Correspondent

William McCarren, Nieman Affiliate ’07, Executive Director, National Press Club (Washington, D.C.), Advisory Board, Reporters Without Borders

Tim McKenna, former photo editor, The Globe and Mail

Mary Meehan, Nieman Fellow ’16

Eugenio Menegon, Boston University

Kondwani Bell Munthali, Nieman Fellow ’07, Former Diplomat, Malawi High Commission, London, Managing Editor and Publisher, The Investigator Magazine, Stratford Upon Avon, England

Takeshi Nakajima, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Patsy Nakell, Nieman Fellow ’07, former editor in chief, Ny Tid, Helsinki, Finland

Chisomo Ngulube, Editor, (Malawi)

Jeneé Osterheldt, Nieman Fellow ’17, The Boston Globe

Philip Pan, foreign editor, The New York Times

Alisa Parenti, breaking news editor Bloomberg News, previously WSJ/MarketWatch, author of historical fiction.

Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College

Kate Peters, Nieman Fellow ’07

Michael Petrou, Nieman Fellow ’18

John Pomfret, former Beijing bureau chief, The Washington Post

Matthew Pottinger, fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Altin Raxhimi, Nieman Fellow ’06, freelance writer

Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post

Emily Rueb, Nieman Fellow ’18, former reporter, The New York Times

Sloan Sable, Retired

Beena Sarwar, Nieman Fellow ’06, Editor, Sapan News Network

Takuya Sasaki, Rikkyo University

Minoru Sawada, Sophia University

Orville Schell, Vice President, Asia Society, and Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-China Relations

Bill Schiller, Nieman Fellow ’06

Gabrielle Schonder, Nieman Fellow ’22

Johanna Schulman, Former ESL teacher, Taiyuan Gong Xue Yuan

Mary Louise Schumacher, Nieman Fellow ’17, independent journalist

James Scott, Nieman Fellow ’07, former reporter, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., now author, Charleston.

Charles M. Sennott, Nieman Fellow ’06, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The GroundTruth Project

Hidemi Shiroyama, Hokkaido University

Robert Socha, Nieman Fellow ’17

Ken Suzuki, Professor of Law, Meiji University

Takashi Suzuki, Professor, Daito Bunka University

Bonny Symons-Brown, Nieman Fellow ’18

Eisuke Takahashi, NHK WORLD

Gwen Thompkins, Nieman Fellow ’11, Tulane University

Tini Tran, Nieman Fellow ’07

Brent Walth, Nieman Fellow ’06, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

Ryota Watanabe, Faculty of Law, Chuo University

Craig Welch, Nieman Fellow ’07, senior staff writer, National Geographic

Edward Wong, Nieman Fellow ’18, Diplomatic Correspondent and former Beijing Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Bob Woodward, The Washington Post for 52 years and Simon & Schuster author for 22 books

Jungho Yoon, Nieman Fellow ’07, former reporter, The Chosun Ilbo, currently anchor and vice director of newsroom of TV Chosun, Seoul.

Bill McCarren, 202-662-7534 for National Press Club 

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