China Business, Internet

Did "Pure Fabrication" Move The Yuan Market?

Getting paid by Chinese companies

The internet is abuzz with news that Chris Devonshire-Ellis of China Briefing may have influenced movement in the Yuan-Dollar conversion rate by what is being described by Chinese governmental authorities on the China Banking Regulatory Commission website as a “pure fabrication.” To summarize, China Briefing Magazine did a post claiming to have interviewed a Chinese governmental official who talked of the Yuan weakening to around CNY6.9-CNY7.0 against the dollar. The Chinese government subsequently went on record denying this and even appearing to deny any such interview took place.

Or as stated by The Wall Street Journal in its initial story:

In a China Briefing story Wednesday, China Banking Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Mingkang was quoted as saying the yuan may weaken to around CNY6.9-CNY7.0 against the U.S. dollar.

The CBRC denied its chairman had been interviewed by China Briefing.

Later Wednesday, China Briefing issued a clarification on its Web site, backing away from attributing specific dollar-yuan levels to any government officials.

The author of the reports, Chris Devonshire-Ellis, told Dow Jones Newswires that specific levels came up during discussions with government officials, but he declined to say who made the comments.

The China Banking and Regulatory Commission has issued its own statement [link no longer exists], appearing to deny such an interview ever took place and calling news of it a “pure fabrication:”

The website CHINA-BRIEFING published an article on Feb 18, 2009 with CBRC Chairman’s photo and opinions. The CBRC hereby makes the statement that no CBRC officials have been interviewed by this media or by the author of this article. This news is a pure fabrication.

A Reuters news service article seems to say China Briefing itself is no longer certain who exactly it interviewed:

China Briefing magazine first attributed the comments to National Development and Reform Commission deputy head Zhang Xiaoqiang but later issued a correction, saying they were by Liu Mingkang, head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

My email in-box has been filled with all sorts of good questions, the answers to which I do not know:

1. Assuming the alleged interview regarding the Yuan rate never occurred at all, might those who lost money on the fluctuations have a cause of action against China Briefing for having claimed to have conducted it?

2. Assuming the alleged statement regarding the Yuan-dollar conversion was never given to China Briefing, but that China Briefing merely made an “error in transcript and translation,” might those who lost money on the fluctuations have a cause of action against China Briefing?

3. Might there be criminal liability, particularly if it is later determined that this news was spread intentionally so as to influence the market?

For more on this, check out the following:

  • Fear of a Red Planet:I believe this is called “self-pwnage” : Chris Devonshire-Ellis interview with CBRC Chairman “‘pure fabrication.’
  • This Dow Jones newswire story [link no longer exists] quotes someone as calling the whole China Briefing thing a “farce.” Perhaps it was just a farce, but if so, why?
  • Marc van der Chijs’ Shanghaied has come out with a post on this, entitled, “A fabricated interview is not a smart idea.
  • Gongshangfa has a post, entitled, Chris Ellis – Fake Lawyer, Fake Interviewer? [link no longer exists] in which he calls for Mr. Devonshire-Ellis to “clear up the confusion.” This post also hosts one iteration of one of the alleged interviews (unfortunately, this is a somewhat later, somewhat more “harmonized” version) with Banking Commission Chairman Mr.Liu Mingkang.
  • China Stakes does a fine job covering the story in a post, entitled, RMB Rumor Briefly Roils Markets before Denials, [link no longer exits] by setting out what appears to have actually happened here and concluding that “it is still not clear when and where Ellis interviewed the two officials.”
  • A Modern Lei Feng has a nice summary post, entitled, On a Carousel.
  • Cn Reviews explains how unlikely it is that such an interview ever took place, in its post, entitled, Chris Devonshire-Ellis apology and RMB/USD exchange rate [link no longer exits]

There are a number of very basic lessons to be learned from all this:

1. Tell the truth.

2. If you are going to report on a conversation with a Chinese government official, make sure you have permission to do so; if you do not have permission, do not make any attributions to a particular person and keep the statements at least somewhat vague.

3. If you are going to issue a story with such clear potential to move markets, make sure you have your facts straight before doing so.

4. If you are going to issue a story with so much potential to move markets and then your facts get questioned, hire a top level PR agency.

Readers, what do you think? As many of you know, Chris Devonshire-Ellis is a controversial figure with a tendency to try to shut down those posts he does not like (see here and here. I do not wish to be subject to a Chris Devonshire-Ellis onslaught so I ask that those who comment stick to the main issues and not make personal attacks or accusation, requiring us to edit or delete.

UPDATE: A Google search reveals that China Briefing has now pulled both of its alleged interviews from its site.

FURTHER UPDATE: In an exceedingly blandly entitled post, “NDRC and CBRC Notice,” [link no longer exists] Chris Devonshire-Ellis has now issued an apology of sorts, for what he calls a “breach of etiquette:”

The National Development and Reform Commission and the China Banking Regulatory Commission have issued statements on their respective websites concerning interviews held with agency officials that appeared on this website. As they state, that these were not “official” meetings. Accordingly, I felt it was now prudent to follow their lead and have removed the articles from our website, together with the accompanying photographs.

We acknowledge that only officially recognized statements issued by the agencies should have appeared. The articles did not fall into this category.

I wish to apologize to the agencies concerned for this breach of etiquette.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis

37 responses to “Did "Pure Fabrication" Move The Yuan Market?”

  1. Dan, cheers for the link. All I can say is what the law would be like here in England and Wales, that being:
    1) He would first have to have a relationship of proximity to those reading the articles in which it would be forseeable that negligence on his part is likely to harm the reader.
    In this case, CDE wrote the interview as part of China Briefing, a website complimentary to his companies services. The website is clearly intended to be read by his clients, with whom he could clearly be seen to be in a relationship of proximity. It might even be argued to be part of his services to them (bringing in contractual considerations).
    2) It would have to be reasonably foreseeable that printing information he knows is not true would harm them.
    Harm resulting from negligence in writing such information could clearly be foreseeable. A reasonable man in his position would foresee that his customers are likely to act upon his information by making investments and plans based on them.
    3) It would have to be shown that it was just fair and reasonable to impose a duty of care.
    I’m not sure what the answer here would be, but I think arguments could be made either way.
    Once a duty of care was shown there would have to be proof of a breach of this duty, releasing false information clearly breaches such a duty.
    Of course, there is no evidence of harm being caused as a result of CDE’s advice – other than the money made/lost in the market, but you would have to show that this damage was caused by the advice.

  2. 1. Assuming the alleged interview regarding the Yuan rate never occurred at all, might those who lost money on the fluctuations have a cause of action against China Briefing for having claimed to have conducted it?
    No. An investor has no reason to believe they should rely on China Briefing for investment decisions, and China Briefing has certainly not established any relationship with readers.
    2. Assuming the alleged statement regarding the Yuan-dollar conversion was never given to China Briefing, but that China Briefing merely made an “error in transcript and translation,” might those who lost money on the fluctuations have a cause of action against China Briefing?
    No, because the reader had no reason to rely on China Briefing for advice and China Briefing has no duty or legal obligation to the reader.
    3. Might there be criminal liability, particularly if it is later determined that this news was spread intentionally so as to influence the market?
    Unlikely. One major issue here is that currencies and currency derivatives aren’t securities, and so you can’t get people under standard securities fraud law.

  3. Let me put my conspiracy theorist hat on..
    Version 1:
    The interview did happen. The Chinese official did say those things to influence the market so that he and his friends and family of other Chinese officals and make some pocket change. This information is, of course, not official since no official in the right mind would ever spell out a specific target. And hence the withdrawal, and blame it on the reporter.
    Version 2:
    The interview did happen. The Chinese official didn’t say anything other then about the weather and the meal. The reporter, desperate for something to report, invented the story, and the rest is history.
    Version 3:
    The interview did not happen. The reporter just made up the whole story to back up his/her expense claims.
    Version 4:
    Obama asked the reporter to write this story so that Obama can make some money on the market.

  4. As China Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira, a professional consultancy firm, then it could be argued that they should have a higher expectation of being listened to than a blog by some random ex-pat who happened to have a chat (or not) with the CBRC chairman.
    Also, there is no disclaimer on China Briefing stating that the articles are not professional advice. Contrast that with, for example, the disclaimer at the bottom of this page. Without such a disclaimer, can Dezan Shira be considered to be giving professional advice through China Briefing. It is described on their website as a “complimentary monthly magazine” – does that suggest that they are providing it, for free, to their customers?
    If there has been a genuine error, but it can be considered a failing in a service provided to their customers, then perhaps they can be held responsible. This would rely upon the assertion of a consultant-client relationship being accepted.
    However, if the losses occurred because of other people following the information, would it be possible to follow the consultant-client line of responsibility? If people lost money through other people’s actions, then China Briefing would only be indirectly responsible at best.

  5. I’d add some rules to the ones about good reporting: If you’re going to base your financial actions on the report of a single media source, you’re risking any money involved on the reliability of the source.
    This is why media organizations work to build reputation, and it’s why something published by Dow Jones Newswire is more believable than something you or I publish. Anyone who lost money on speculation based on a single report deserves their loss. They can make it back on something else.

  6. I doubt if he or the complimentary subscription can be sued in China. However China is like in the Pulp Fiction scene a place where it is “the little differences” that come into play. “They got the same shit as here but theirs is a little different”.
    Looking at the government statements that were published on every Chinese government media outlet this has been a major issue for the government. Phase two would be that they are going to have a very critical look at China Briefing, read copies of the previous “Ministerial Meetings” and if they decide these were all fabrications they may decide on a number of things. I am just speculating here but looking at the shitstorm that was caused and presuming the interviews were indeed a fabrication as mentioned by the government sources they may:
    1. Close the publication
    2. Decide the author is no longer welcome as he is damaging the credibility of the country and has not acted as the friendly guest
    3. Have a serious chat and keep CB under close control to make sure none if this will ever happen again.
    4. Issue an internal warning that no official ever talks to this guy nor poses with him.
    They won’t make him a guest of the state unless they would pick on other issues they doscover in their investigation.
    I am quite sure that mentioned officials would not bring a suit for harming their reputation but they have other ways of making sure they will get their justice served at a time and in a way they want it if they decide to do so.
    For damages on Yuan trading I think this would be very difficult as a little Due Dilligence in the magazine or the author would have created enough evidence not to use the information presented as properly investigated and vetted news.
    However initially reputable new sources took over the news without any further checking. Maybe they can be sued as they should have known better?
    What I also saw is that under the articles in CB there is this comment that private questions that readers could have send beforehand would be answered privately by the author within a few days. Now if these interviews never took place the private answers do clearly demonstate a client relationship, a very intimite one indeed. So if people based on email they recieve from the author with the answer to their question, act upon it and get into trouble they might have a reason to sue their advisor or “trusted source”.

  7. Good friend just wrote me that there is ofcourse the catch-all law in China against spreading false information. So instead of a civil lawsuit using that law the Chinese authorities can prosecute if they choose to do so.

  8. Quote: Contrast that with, for example, the disclaimer at the bottom of this page. Without such a disclaimer, can Dezan Shira be considered to be giving professional advice through China Briefing.
    Doesn’t work that way. Disclaimers make it clear that there is no professional relationship, but a lack of a disclaimer doesn’t imply that there is a professional relationship, and in this situation I don’t see any sign that there is a professional relationship with an average reader.
    Now things are very different if you have people paying for investment advice or legal help. However in that situation, a lot would depend on whether the writer was just mistaken or if they had an active plot to defraud investors. Even then it would be a tough situation because 1) currrencies are not securities so the standard for fraud is much higher and 2) you’d have to show that investor *wouldn’t* have made the investment without the bad advice.
    If you have someone who actively trades currencies then you can argue that they would have made the investment anyway even if they had not read the article. You can also make the argument that anyone that makes large investments based on rumors that they hear on the internet is an idiot.
    Finally, there is the problem with recovery. Even if you end up suing and winning, it’s pointless if the defendant doesn’t have money, and it is also pointless if you are merely one of several million people also in line for money.

  9. The relevant Chinese criminal laws regarding spreading false rumors are Article 105 of the Criminal Law and Article 78 of the Securities Law. I don’t think either applies here.
    Article 105 makes it illegal to spread rumors for the purpose of undermining the socialist system. I don’t think that it applies here, and a valid defense here is that the defendant was spreading rumors for the purpose of making large amounts of money. Chinese courts have been reluctant to invoke Article 105 for everything because if you use it to go after everyone, it makes it a much less effective weapon to use against people that the Party considers a political threat.
    Article 78 makes it illegal to spread rumors that disturb the securities markets. The trouble with using Article 78 is that it isn’t clear to me that currency markets are considered securities markets under either US or Chinese law.
    Also I’d be very reluctant to support prosecution under either law, because they would set up a “chilling effect” on financial discussion. Any use of a law to clamp down on rumors may set very bad legal precedents for the future. If I were to try to advocate criminal prosecution, I’d want to be very careful to craft the legal argument in a way that doesn’t hurt what limited legally protected free speech there is in China.

  10. Graham: This is why media organizations work to build reputation, and it’s why something published by Dow Jones Newswire is more believable than something you or I publish.
    The trouble here is that the appearance of reputation is sometimes not connected with actual reputation. Most Dow Jones Newswire stories end up being press releases summarized and copyedited by someone barely out of school without nearly the background needed to analyze the information.
    The thing about the internet that is totally changing the nature of media is that you often end up with blogs and postings by people that are more knowledgable about a situation and in some cases far more knowledgable about a situation than most traditional journalists. Even when that isn’t the case, reading something from multiple perspectives often gives you a much better picture of what is going on.

  11. CDE requested that anyone who had a question for the Chairman of the CBRC should email him and it would be asked in strictest confidence. Since he is now telling us that he never spoke in private to Liu, and that his conversation with Liu took place as a ’round-table’, in what way could he possibly have asked these questions in confidence? Surely all those present at such a meeting would hear them?

  12. One other thing that complicates the legal analysis is that the information about the movement of the RMB could be considered insider information or state secrets (and China has a very broad definition of state secrets).
    If someone trades on the basis of information that they know they shouldn’t be trading on, and the subsequently loses money, then it’s unlikely that they have a claim for damages.

  13. One interesting part of this is that US insider information law can lead to some bizarre catch-22 situations in which someone can be sued for securities fraud if they reveal insider information to clients but can also be sued for breach of fiduciary duty if they *don’t* reveal insider information to clients.

  14. @twofish
    Very good points on both laws. So that is good news then. But as we all know they can always find something if they want. Lying about your educational record on your application as legal representative of the company or visa application, taxation..whatever they can think of but I have a feeling that the walk of shame might be considered appropriate by the authorities. Well who knows what they think at the moment. It has been an eventful day at these ministries. Sure there will be an evaluation when things are more quiet as to how to avoid this from happening again.

  15. Over and above the claims and counterclaims, there is the overall question of national harmony that the powers to be in Beijing hold near and dear to their collective hearts. If the powers to be feel this action was a direct or indirect threat to national harmony, sanctions will be put in place – whether it be in the law books or not.

  16. No matter how you look at this, anyone who uses Chris Devonshire-Ellis or his firm, DezanShira, for their work in China ought to have their heads examined. Knowing China like I know China, I am sure their registrations will be held up, their taxes very closely examined, and their visas more closely reviewed. This fiasco is going to sink this guy once and for all, just you watch.

  17. As I wrote in my post on this topic, I would not be the least surprised if Chris is not urgently making his way out of the country as we speak. Perhaps the Beijing airport is not the best method, but the real possibility of serious problems cannot be dismissed.
    I suppose that might be a bit overly dramatic, but he is not that powerful and not that rich, so I wouldn’t dismiss the notion out-of-hand.

  18. Basic lesson #5: Never trust anyone with a hyphen in his surname.
    But seriously, anyone who doesn’t think we’re in for a race to the bottom among world currencies isn’t paying attention. Doesn’t matter whether bureaucrats wish to be quoted on it or not.

  19. Re: Twofish. Thanks for clearing up those issues. I agree that the average reader wouldn’t be considered to have a professional relationship with Dezan Shira. I think that the only people who would be able to claim that relationship would be people who were already paying Dezan Shira for other services.
    There aren’t likely to be many of those, so it could be possible that they’d be able to sue and get almost enough money to make it worthwhile. But more likely, and just as damaging in the long run, is that they’ll take their money elsewhere.
    The Chinese government could use Article 105. Considering the tight-control that they keep on the exchange rate, they consider it to be a matter of national importance. This is not a common occurrence, so I don’t think they’d consider that it was diluting the significance of Article 105. With regard to stifling economic discussion – first off, a prosecution might not have that effect if it is clear that he was being prosecuted specifically for allegedly faking the interview, and that other discussions wouldn’t be clamped down on; and secondly, the Chinese government may not hold free economic discussion in the same esteem as you and many other people do.
    But most likely, as Laurentius points out, is that they’ll seek to ‘uncover’ previous dealings on the wrong side of the law.

  20. Lowe: With regard to stifling economic discussion – first off, a prosecution might not have that effect if it is clear that he was being prosecuted specifically for allegedly faking the interview, and that other discussions wouldn’t be clamped down on.
    I think that it would have a huge chilling effect. You print something in the news citing a source, the source then lies through their teeth and says that they never heard of you. If this subjects you to jail or even prosecution, you are going to think twice about saying anything.
    There is quite a bit of precedent as to what PRC subversion laws are used for and what they are not used for. If the courts start going past the lines that have been established over the years, this is a really bad sign since you don’t know what the limits are.

  21. Dan,
    I don’t know if you did it intentionally or not, but this absolutely has to be the funniest post you have ever written. By the time I finished Chris Devonshire-Ellis’s apology I was laughing so hard I could barely stand up. Then when I read all that there was to read on him on Twitter I started having trouble breathing, I was laughing so hard. Christine Liu’s invitation for him to embarrass himself even further nearly put me under. Come on Dan, we all know there is no way he is going to discuss any of this live. I think his fleeing China by camel is far more likely.

  22. Lowe: This is not a common occurrence, so I don’t think they’d consider that it was diluting the significance of Article 105.
    I should also point out that even in obviously political cases, judges and prosecutors have been very reluctant to use the state subversion charge. Even with political dissidents, they have much perferred to use more concrete charges.
    The problem is that “state subversion” is so vague that once you start using it for anything other than directly calling for the overthrow of the Communist Party, the genie goes out of the bottle, and you can use it for anything. At that point judges and Communist Party officials start worrying that it could be used against them someday.
    As a result there are limits to what state subversion has been used to prosecute, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what people would want to challenge those limits.
    It’s much safer to try to find a charge under securities law. Much of the reason for that is that while Chinese securities law is very undeveloped, the precedents used tend to be American.
    Lowe: But most likely, as Laurentius points out, is that they’ll seek to ‘uncover’ previous dealings on the wrong side of the law.
    Or they may seek to forget the whole thing. It seems to me here that you have people with overdeveloped senses of how important they are in the grand scheme of things.

  23. Aside from the legal issues, isn’t it possible that someone actually DID say that to him, even if it showed incredible foolishness to repeat an off the record comment in print (and be fairly unsure of who said what)? It’s not that crazy to have an official say something like that, even if they were blowing smoke.
    This clearly points to a foolishness–or more politely naivete–on the part of the reporter. Show this lack of basic understanding of the Chinese marketplace cannot help an advisory firm.

  24. Also people need really to have a sense of proportion. Most bloggers spend enough time in obscurity, that to have any sort of government agency even notice them makes them a “superstar” which gives people a far inflated view of how important they really are. This is hardly the type of thing that would be mentioned at a ministerial level meeting, although what is happening is that people have this secret wish that they are important enough that they would be mentioned at a ministerial level meeting. They aren’t. If this has any impact it would be in a two second mention in developing a policy for handling internet rumors quickly and these discussions would happen at a relatively low level and then executed at an even lower level. Time is a precious commodity in a bureaucracy, and high level officials just don’t have time or energy to micromanage things.
    The other thing about it is that there seems to be a tightly knit blogging community with a lot of anomosity and emotion between the people involved. The problem here is that things that seem life and death to people within these sorts of communities make absolute no sense to people outside the community. I’m really interested in Chinese law, but I really don’t care very much about the personalities involved.
    This has some implications for law. A lot of practical law involves cost-benefit analysis, and you shouldn’t underestimate the costs of undertaking a major prosecution or civil law suit. Even a minor civil suit would involve dozens of people working full time over months, and a major lawsuit or prosecution could easily involve hundreds of people working full time over years. The payoff has to be worth it, and worse yet, if you’ve committed the time and effort to doing something, you’ve taken resources that could be likely used to do something more useful.
    From the outside, a bureaucracy looks all powerful, but from the inside, you have people that are usually highly overworked and stressed out, and officials and people who people on the outside think have a lot of power because they are on the inside, may actually have very little real power and be extremely low on the totem pole.
    There also the “Walter Mitty” factor. It seems to me that a some of people involved *wish* that they would be in a position to interview or even talk to the head of the CBRC, when in fact that head of the CBRC (or anyone in the CBRC) have no idea who they are. In this situation, devoting a large amount of time, energy, publicity, and attention to someone is counterproductive, since you are giving them publicity and attention which is a rare and extremely precious resource.

  25. Wow twofish that is some pretty good writing. I think you are right. In the grand scheme of things the bureaucracy will remember it, the individual will have a hard time gaining any access into the government institutions but that would probably be it.
    The normal emergency response measures they had were pretty well executed. Within a short time press conferences and statements went out, every media outlet was informed and the markets calmed down.
    The normal authorities who deal with tax and licenses might receive a request to check out his business a bit more careful, drop by unannounced a couple of times and that could very well be the end of it. The officials will not forget his face so personal chitchat is not an option anymore I think.

  26. I am a little “removed” from this curious case because I don’t care enough about Mr CDE to get worked up about it. But if he really did fabricate the whole “Ministerial Interviews” then I take off my hat to him for being an outrageous bluffer. The shame is that he became, quite unnecessarily, an online bully and so I can’t really find it in myself to applaud his chutzpah. But it is a funny story and he is one of these “larger than life” characters who spice things up a bit. Also, I just love the fact that he changed his name from Chris Ellis to “Devonshire-Ellis”. That was a classy touch; like something a loveable rogue in a PG Wodehouse book would do.

  27. A couple of issues….
    An official research body of the Min.of Finance did indeed publish a report suggesting a RMB devaluation.
    See the highly credible Michale Pettis’ post:
    So, if published reports mean anything, then there are influential folk out there who see a devaluation as in China’s national interest.
    I haven’t much to add to the China Briefing debate, as I’d rather interview the parties concerned before offering any analysis.
    But, there are a few ground rules that folk should remember.
    If you’re going to report on a meeting / conversation, be clear on whether this is “on the record”, “off the record,” or “background”.
    And respect this.
    If you are told a real gem, but it’s “off the record”, use your brains before puting pen to paper. And don’t attribute. It also helps to get some comments / feedback from analysts on the impact of such a “hypothetical” situation.
    If meetings are “on the record”, record it !
    From my own experience, having reported in many countries, I’ve come across folk who have indeed picked up a nice little gem from a little-read publication, then fashioned a so-called exclusive interview-led story around this nugget. I’m certainly not suggesting that this happened in the case of China Briefing. But for what it’s worth, there are folk out there in the world of reporting or quasi-reporting who’ll employ all sorts of fancy footwork in order to trumpet themselves.

  28. Chris “Devonshire” Ellis is a fraud and [blocked] media [blocked] who has survived in China too long, only because he has [blocked] so many vice-mayors and posed with them that he has some level of protection. [blocked] Honest, hard-working China expats: bring this [blocked] down now in the name of western business legitimacy in China.

  29. Funny how even in his half-baked apologies he continues with his penchant for fraud. The CBRC did not say that the meeting was not official; it said that it never happened, period.
    I’d bet odds are good Chris was forced out of China and didn’t leave because of his “mistakes”.

  30. The truth always comes out in the end.
    The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce China Committee held a meeting on April 20, 2009. The meeting minutes can be found online here:
    Point 3 on the agenda stated that:
    “Alex Fong Chamber CEO briefed members on the case of Chris Devonshire-Ellis:
    Mr. Devonshire-Ellis, Senior Partner, Dezan Shira & Associates Ltd, joined the China Committee Mission to Beijing dated from 11-12 February 2009.
    Amongst other senior appointments, the delegation visited Chairman of China Banking Regulatory Commission Mr. Liu Mingkan and the Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission Mr. Zhang Xiaoqiang and discussed with them some issues relating to Hong Kong business development in China. During the mission Chris Devonshire-Ellis took individual photos with Chairman Mr. Liu Mingkan and Vice Minister Zhang Xiaoqiang. Subsequent tot he visits, he made use of the photos and wrote an article in the “China Briefing”, a publication which he put up at the website managed by his company, quoting senior Ministry official’s disclosure to him of imminent changes on the Mainland’s policy on RMB exchange rate on 17 February 2009.
    The inclusion of the photos can lead the officials to associate the incident to the recent chamber visit to Beijing. The incident has lead to a breach of trust and loss of faith between the Ministries and the chamber, and may also have undermined the chamber’s reputation which we have built with the Central Government Ministries over the years. Although an apology has been offered by him to the agencies on the website of “China Briefing” this has not solved the mistrust that this incident may have created between the chamber and the ministries.
    Actions the Chamber has taken
    The Chamber has send him a letter afterward, requesting him to give the chamber information or a reply on helping us to mend any ruptured relationship between the chamber and the ministries. However the chamber could not get any reply from him. After that the chamber has authorized Leung & Wan Solicitors to send him a letter, requesting him to reply the chamber within the next five days and supply all the necessary information which is crucial to enable the chamber to give explain tot he ministries. However he has made no reply to the chamber after the deadline.”
    So in light of what this committee decided and wrote regarding Mr. Ellis, I think we can safely assume there was no one on one meeting and it is hardly surprising that the interview published never took place. That interview started with Mr. Liu Mingkan stating “You always ask me this question”. ….not! If these meetings had been real, Mr. Devonshire-Ellis would have not received a letter from the solicitors seeking an explanation of what happened. The delegation knew that there had not been an interview as they were all there for a hectic 20 mins.

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