Public relations firm Edelman has confirmed it had business ties with a leading Chinese television anchor who was detained by the authorities last week.
Rui Chenggang, a TV host of economic and financial programme Economic News, was last seen on air last Thursday and appears to have been arrested on Friday shortly before failing to appear on his show.
The People’s Daily, China’s communist party mouthpiece, announced on Saturday Mr Rui had been taken away by prosecutors.
The China Central Television host appears to be the latest target in a broad anti corruption drive by President Xi Jinping last year.
Pledging to take on both “tigers and flies”, Mr Xi has purged several senior officials and military men, though critics say the probes have targeted political opponents.
Mr Rui is hardly a powerful figure in his own right, but appears to have been embroiled in a corruption case built against his former chief, CCTV’s financial news channel director Guo Zhenxi, who was arrested in June.
It was unclear what charges, if any, would be brought against Mr Rui. However, in an email sent to western media, Edelman confirmed an earlier Chinese report that in 2007 it had bought a 78 per cent stake in Pegasus Communications, a PR firm launched by Mr Rui and two business partners in 2002.
Mr Rui apparently owned a 8 per cent stake in Pegasus until 2010, even though Pegasus continued to do business with the TV host’s employer, CCTV. Notably, Pegasus provided services to CCTV during the 2009 and 2010 World Economic Forums in Davos, Switzerland. It is not clear whether these facts had anything to do with Mr Rui’s arrest or even whether the arrangements violated any Chinese laws.
Edelman explained in the email that “Pegasus was engaged by corporate sponsors involved in underwriting CCTV’s presence at Davos” and added that the firm was “taking this matter very seriously” and continuing to gather facts.
CCTV has failed to report on the entire saga, which has played loudly in the rest of the Chinese media, both state and private.
Mr Rui, who speaks fluent English and was a fixture on the international business and policy circuit, cultivated a reputation for brashness and arrogance, once telling Barack Obama, US president, that he “represented all of Asia” during a press conference.
Political observers have connected the case against Mr Rui to political intrigues in the upper echelon of the Chinese elite. Mr Guo was arrested by prosecutors on charges of corruption. He in turn appears to have been ensnared in a political vendetta against allies of former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who has been reportedly in detention since late last year.
Mr Guo was a key ally and former subordinate of Li Dongsheng, former vice- minister for public security and 22-year veteran of CCTV, who was in turn a close associate of Mr Zhou. Mr Li was placed under investigation by the authorities last December.
目前尚不清楚芮成钢会受到什么样的指控（如果有的话）。但在发送给西方媒体的邮件中，爱德曼证实了早前中国方面的一条报道。该报道称，2007年，爱德曼购入北京帕格索斯公关顾问有限公司(Pegasus Communications) 78%的股权，该公司由芮成钢和2名商业伙伴创建于2002年。
芮成钢看上去持有帕格索斯近8%的股份直到2010年，尽管帕格索斯继续与其雇主中央电视台有业务往来。值得注意的是，在2009年和2010年瑞士达沃斯世界经济论坛(World Economic Forum)期间，帕格索斯曾为中央电视台提供服务。目前尚不清楚上述情况与芮成钢被捕是否有关，甚至不清楚这些安排是否违反任何中国法律。