Late last month, China’s embattled Dalian Wanda Group threatened legal actionagainst media outlets spreading what it called “vicious rumors” that its Chairman, Wang Jianlin, had been prevented from leaving China. The real estate and entertainment giant now says it’s making good on the promise.
In a statement released Wednesday, Wanda says, “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, and the courts have accepted the lawsuits.”
Wanda further says it will press criminal charges “against those whose behavior constituted a crime by spreading the rumors.” The company is also considering filing a $2M suit in the U.S. against Boxun, a North Carolina-based Chinese-language website. Boxun in 2013 settled a libel case with actress Zhang Ziyi.
Those against whom Wanda says it has already filed in China include several official WeChat and Weibo accounts, requesting that each issue a public apology and pay damages of RMB 5M ($765K).
Under Chinese law, criminal defamation charges would be possible, Wanda explains, if online posts have been clicked and read more than 5,000 times or generated more than 500 re-posts.
The company says while part of its aim is “defending its dignity,” it’s 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.”
Initial reports about Wang rattled shares in Wanda’s Hong Kong listed Wanda Hotel Development last month. The company has been in the headlines recently over various restructurings and amid a crackdown by the PROC on outward investment.
by Nancy Tartaglione