By Yang Xi and Keen Zhang
Fourteen lawyers, currently working for Beijing Huanzhong & Partners (BHP) have filed a suit in the People's Court of Chaoyang District, Beijing on April 20.
The proceedings are directed against the Cable News Network (CNN) and its commentator Jack Cafferty, who used the term "goons and thugs" in describing the US relationship with China. The court did not accept the case the day it was filed.
The lawyers said that Jack Cafferty's remarks had seriously infringed upon the reputation and dignity of the Chinese people and caused mental and psychological trauma.
The plaintiff believed that Cafferty had violated specific Chinese laws, including relevant clauses in the Chinese Constitution and General Provisions of Civil Law concerning human dignity which shall not be harmed, and trammeled on according to the professional ethics of journalism as listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which requires reporters to respect the individual privacy and the dignity of the human race, as well as respect a nation, its divisions and customs. His remarks also violated the Code of Ethics passed in 1996 by the Society of Professional Journalists based in the United States.
The lawyers maintained that the court should stop the infringement of CNN and Jack Cafferty. In addition, the defendants should openly apologize via newspapers and magazines and pay the symbolic sum of 100 yuan (US$14.30) as compensation for mental trauma.
"So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed, I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years," Jack Cafferty said during a TV program called "Situation Room" that aired on April 9.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, fellow journalists and a vast number of Chinese people seriously denounced his vicious attacks on the Chinese people and the “Chinese government”, which he clarified one week later. This incident also triggered a huge backlash protest by over seven thousand American-Chinese outside CNN's Los Angeles division and Atlanta headquarters over last weekend.
CNN and Jack Cafferty have shown no sign of regret so far, issuing a sophisticated statement instead, hoping to calm the Chinese down.
In addition to the 14 mainland lawyers' action, CNN and Jack Cafferty can expect more lawsuits in the near future.
More than 40 Chinese societies convened in Los Angeles on April 18. All the presenting representatives agreed to take legal action against CNN in the immediate future. They are demanding compensation of US$130 million.