I am serious about buying the New York Times, says Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao

 

One of China's richest men has insisted he is serious about buying the New York Times so that he can work on "rebuilding its credibility and influence".

Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China's 400 richest people, said he has persuaded a Hong Kong entrepreneur to contribute $600m (£366m) so that he can pursue his dream of reforming the newspaper's award-winning coverage of China.

In a 5 January opinion piece in the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper linked to the Communist Party, the eccentric billionaire wrote: "I may be a maverick, but it doesn't mean I like playing tricks. I want to purchase the New York Times. Please do not treat it as a joke."

Chen added that if he is to succeed in his latest venture, he will reform the publication by making its reports “more authentic and objective, thus rebuilding its credibility and influence”.

“I find Americans know little about a civilised and open China that has been enjoying unprecedented development. The tradition and style of the New York Times make it very difficult to have objective coverage of China. If we could purchase it, its tone might turn around,” Mr Chen wrote on Sunday.

Mr Chen, who made his fortune by founding Huangpu Renewable Resources in 1998, is often criticised in China for his over-the-top publicity stunts, including selling canned fresh air to residents of smog-ridden Beijing, and handing out 100 yuan (£10) notes to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

His new plans have equally been derided as another attention-seeking ploy. Dr Kevin Latham, a senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, said that although the article’s prominence in the Global Times suggests that Mr Chen has a certain degree of popular and financial support, it has “a ring of publicity about it.”

Dr Latham added that Mr Chen is more likely trying to appeal to a current feeling in China that Western media are constantly portraying the country in bad light, a phenomenon dubbed “China-bashing”.

The NYT fell foul of the Chinese government in 2012 after it published a lengthy investigation into the wealth of former premier Wen Jiabao. Its website is now blocked by the country’s internet censors, dubbed the Great Firewall of China, and its reporters are routinely denied permission to visas.

Last week, Mr Chen said he was planning on visiting the US to discuss the acquisition of the 162-year-old newspaper and was later spotted in New York’s John F Kennedy airport. The NYT has denied that it it has entered into any negotiations with Mr Chen.

Mr Chen values the influential media organisation at $1 billion; a seemingly low estimate as share prices have risen by 83% this year, placing its total market capitalisation at $2.3 billion. Indeed, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Zhang Jiang, told Time magazine that the acquisition would be “impossible” because of the current share structure.

Following the Washington Post’s acquisition by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the NYT is now the only major newspaper in the US still owned by a family, the Sulzbergers,

In August 2013, at the time of the Washington Post acquisition, Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr said: "The Times is not for sale, and the trustees of the Ochs-Sulzberger Trust and the rest of the family are united in our commitment to work together with the company's board, senior management and employees to lead the New York Times forward into our global and digital future."

Mr Sulzberger Jr's comments have apparently not deterred Mr Chen, who added that he initially dreamt up the idea of buying the NYT after placing an advertisement with them in December 2012, in which he asserts Chinese sovereignty over a disputed group of islands, named the Diaoyu Islands by China, and the Senkaku Islands by Japan.

The Chinese state’s controls over the media would make it virtually impossible for Mr Chen to buy a Chinese newspaper or media organisation outright, which is why he may have set his sights further afield. “He might fancy himself as another Rupert Murdoch, but why start with the New York Times? It would make much more sense for him to buy a smaller Australian newspaper and work his way from there,” Dr Latham said.

In Sunday’s Global Times, Mr Chen wrote: “I have said as long as the price is reasonable, there is nothing that cannot be bought.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition