Media & Culture

Hu Shuli

The muckraker bringing China’s free-speech fight into English-language media.

Editor-in-chief, Caixin

Being a serious, investigative journalist in China has gotten ever more dangerous, and many erstwhile muckrakers have fled the country, the profession, or both. Not so for Hu Shuli, who founded and now runs Caixin, arguably China’s most respected independent outlet. In 2016, Caixin evidenced global ambitions when it formed a newsroom with a staff of about 20 dedicated to producing its English-language edition.

In March 2016, Hu brought the fight against Chinese censorship to the English language web when her publication ran an article denouncing censors who’d axed an earlier piece quoting a Chinese political advisor urging candor with the country’s leadership. It’s virtually certain that Hu, long known for her intuitive sense of the contours of the Communist Party’s fuzzy red lines, approved that content. While that article was itself later removed, it served notice that Hu wants the West to hear about Beijing’s ever-tighter grip on the country’s press. The West seems to be listening; in May 2016, Princeton University gave Hu an honorary doctorate for her contributions to journalism. That didn’t impress Chinese authorities, which in October issued a two-month ban on reposting Caixin pieces given the outlet’s repeated violations of “news and propaganda discipline.”

(Photo credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

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