A number of Chinese law professors and experts think the ruling by a Shenzhen intermediate court over the Foxconn vs. Wang You, Weng Bao case "was absurd."
According to the ruling, the court has frozen the personal assets of two journalists at the First Business Daily in Shanghai.
Apple iPod manufacturer Foxconn based in Shenzehn sued the two journalists for 30 million RMB yuan (3.77 million U.S dollars) for allegedly damaging "its reputation" by the stories on the workers' "substandard working conditions and low pay."
In their stories, Wang and Weng wrote that most employees in Foxconn's Shenzhen factory "worked more than 12 hours a day and earned only about 1,000 RMB yuan (some 43 dollars) a month."
The workers, their stories described, "also had to stand for long hours at their jobs and were not allowed to talk to others."
Since its announcement, the court's ruling, controversial in nature, has aroused heated discussions in Chinese newspapers and websites, and in a way, drawn strong criticisms from the public.
A number of law professors and experts, in particular, have made their comments on the ruling, and suggested to improve law enforcement and supervision over "sweatshops."
"Large enterprises should be subject to rigorous monitoring by the people and the media," Peking University Law School professor He Weifang said.
In an interview published Tuesday with the Southern Metropolis Daily, He said "the most absurd thing is that the target of the lawsuit was not the newspaper but the reporters."
"It is the professional duty of a journalist to publish what he writes in the newspaper, because this is what the newspaper asks him to do. Therefore, the wrong entity has been sued (in this case)," He stressed.
"Furthermore," He noted, "the court has not even done the most basic investigation before freezing all assets of the individuals."
"This creates an impression to people that every stage of the process is seriously flawed," He said.
Agreeing with He, Yang Lixin, law professor from the Renmin University, made it clear that "Chinese law doesn't even support such a claim of Foxconn."
He said, according to a judicial interpretation issued by the Supreme Court in 1993 on libel cases, "if the literary work at dispute is written by full-time journalists while fulfilling their work duties -- reporting and writing for their newspaper -- then only the employer, i.e. the newspaper, should be listed as the defendant."
"The journalists are entitled to petitioning the court and lift the freeze on their personal assets," Yang told the Beijing News.
Li Kanli of Southern Metropolis Daily said in his column: "It is the professional duty for news reporters to expose sweat factories."
"Foxconn does not sue the newspaper, but sues the reporters instead, including asking the court to freeze the personal assets of the reporters," he expressed his puzzlement.
"It is incredible that the court should accept the petition. Even if the total assets of the two individuals are frozen, that would be far short of the astronomical demands of 10 and 20 million RMB yuan respectively," he said, asking "What is the point of the court freezing the assets of the two reporters?"