China’s Dalian Wanda says it has begun legal proceedings against media and individuals recently involved in spreading what it calls misinformation and unfounded gossip.
“Regarding the malicious rumors that have recently been fabricated and spread with respect to the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, Mr. Wang Jianlin, Wanda has filed lawsuits against the responsible rumormongers on Sept. 5th in Chinese courts holding the proper jurisdiction,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “And the courts have accepted the lawsuits.”
Numerous reports circulated in China in August reporting that Wang and members of his family had been detained by authorities while on his way to Tianjin airport, and that though he was subsequently released, he cannot leave the country. Wanda quickly issued a statement denying the accuracy of these reports.
Among those being pursued are WeChat (social media) accounts including Financial Bread, Dimeng Smart Transportation, New People Magazine, and Three Board of Telecommunications, and Weibo (blogs) including Coyote-Abraham, Asia News Weekly, Shangqizhuang, Peaceful Mouth, Wu Xiaowei, and Iebrun. Wanda is seeking apologies and compensation of RMB5 million ($750,000) from each.
The company said that it is also considering filing a lawsuit in the U.S. against another company, Boxun, as a measure against overseas rumormongers. It would seek compensation of $2 million.
Wanda says that recent Chinese legal precedents define online defamation as posts that have been clicked and read more than 5,000 times or generated more than 500 reposts.
“Wanda Group is not only pursuing economic and criminal charges against rumormongers and defending its dignity, but also using legal measures to issue a warning to media outlets lacking ethics or basic moral standards as well as to help create a cleaner Internet environment,” the statement concluded.