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Zhao Pu: It was for my own protection

Zhao Pu (@赵普), the CCTV anchor made popular by his Weibo post warning people against solid yogurt and jelly in April 2012, then, disappeared from the screen for months and has remained quiet ever since, finally broke his silence in an interview with the Southern People Weekly Magazine, spurring another round of Weibo discussion.

Zhao Pu Photo:

Zhao’s Weibo revelation in April was the first domino that fell in a line of dominoes which resulted in the notorious “industrial gelatin scandal” in which 45 people were detained, nine were arrested and over 77 million chromium-tainted capsules were seized in three provinces in China. Zhao then vanished from the TV screen and Weibo. Speculations about his suspension have been circulating on Weibo and many have voiced their concern and indignation over such “unfair” treatment. In August, Zhao reappeared on CCTV but remained quiet.

In this interview eight months after the incident, Zhao cleared the rumor by admitting that his disappearance was a “last-resort” move to fight against “outside pressure”. “Because of us, the entire chain of the industrial gelatin industry was exposed, which for sure put the vested interests at risk. They tried all kinds of methods to crush me and CCTV. ” Zhao said. “So it was for my own protection that I dropped off the radar for a while.”

“Looking at the whole picture, I did not do anything wrong. But I might have done the right thing at the wrong time.” Zhao admitted.

Cartoon drawn by Weibo user @老米粥 mocking the toxic capsule scandal. Photo:

Weibo users, who are mostly pro-Zhao, ate up his version of the story. Besides voicing their support of him, they also raised another question: who’s pressuring CCTV, the state-owned media?

@Ren Zhiqiang (任志强): Another case in point that proves the necessity of the freedom of speech.

@Xiliang hot-tempered horse(西凉烈马): For various reasons, in this country, the journalists either transform into a chameleon, or are turned mute. And the most miserable ones live their lives like a wanted man…

@Xian chou qian hu(閑愁千斛): The people need to know the truth! And they have the right to know the truth. Go Zhao Pu!

@567 God-given (567天赐): Who’s pressuring the anchor and CCTV? How come no one dares to investigate?

@Cuan lai cuan wang(爨来爨往): They moved the cheese of the powerful. Go to Brother Xi for help!

@Chinese youth KK (中国青年KK): These poor media people! It’s really not easy being a media person! As long as the CPC doesn’t reform its media policy, most of the media people will still dare not tell the truth!

@Damon_shen: China’s intertwined chain of vested interest has long been out of control. More poisonous than the capsules and the solid yogurt is the system. China’s messy regulatory environment is also to blame. Zhao might have been a little bit rash in releasing such a warning in the first place. But at least his heart is in the right place. Then again, if indeed even the CCTV is feeling the pressure of being crushed, who is able to help safeguard the people’s interest? China is besieged by food and drug safety problems and faces an uphill battle to deal with the problem and restore people’s faith. Better not wait until the day when the public’s anger can no longer be contained.

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