Billionaire Chen Guangbiao says he has persuaded a Hong Kong entrepreneur to contribute US$600 million to chase his dream of owning the respected US newspaper the New York Times, which he intends to reform.
Chen said he is serious about buying the newspaper.
He is listed as one of China’s 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his charitable giving.
He wrote an an op-ed in the state-run Global Times newspaper headlined: “I intend to buy The New York Times, please don’t take it as a joke.’’
Chen said he is keen to buy the paper and wants to work on “rebuilding its credibility and influence,’’ by reforming its award-winning coverage of China.
“The tradition and style of The New York Times make it very difficult to have objective coverage of China,” Chen wrote.
“If we could purchase it, its tone might turn around. Therefore I have been involved in discussing acquisition-related matters with like-minded investors.”
The New York Times has published several award-winning reports on China, including a 2012 investigation into the family wealth of then-premier Wen Jiabao that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
The paper’s website has been blocked ever since in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, and several of its reporters have had difficulty obtaining visas.
Last Monday, Chen said at an event in Shenzhen that he planned to travel to the US “to go discuss the acquisition” of the paper, a remark that many dismissed as the wealthy entrepreneur’s latest play for attention.
Four days later, Chen was seen by a Chinese Business News reporter at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.