British Advertising Firm Fires Executives Detained in China Amid Anti-Espionage Campaign

British Advertising Firm Fires Executives Detained in China Amid Anti-Espionage Campaign - The company fired GroupM China executives who are currently detained in China on suspicion of bribery and is conducting an internal investigation into it.

British Advertising Firm Fires Executives Detained in China Amid Anti-Espionage Campaign

British Advertising Firm Fires Executives Detained in China Amid Anti-Espionage Campaign

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The British multinational advertising giant WPP said on Oct. 24 that the company had fired China executives of its advertising procurement department who are currently detained in China on suspicion of bribery and is conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

The Economic Crime Investigation Division of the Shanghai Police said on Oct. 21 that three suspects from an unnamed advertising company were detained on suspicion of bribery.

Later, it was reported that the police statement refers to the detention of one current employee and two former employees of GroupM, an advertising procurement department of WPP, in China, according to Chinese media.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the executive who was still employed by WPP when he was detained, was an executive named Di Fei. Two other executives who were detained by the Chinese police had left GroupM before Chinese authorities raided its offices in Shanghai last week.
WPP said it can’t comment on the details of an active police investigation.

CCP's Anti-Espionage Actions

This is following the formal arrest of a Japanese businessman in his 50s who worked for Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma in China for alleged espionage on Oct. 19. He has been detained by the Chinese police since March.
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 Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno speaks at a press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno speaks at a press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)

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In response, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, “We have also strongly urged China for an immediate release at various levels and we will continue to do so."

With its current sluggish economy, China is in great need of foreign production orders, technology, management, and funds, so it has relaxed restrictions, such as on the foreign investment in the manufacturing sector.

However, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping has continued to emphasize the CCP’s political security.

The CCP recently revised its Anti-Espionage Law, further targeting foreign nationals, foreign businesses in China, and Chinese nationals who have overseas connections. The law came into effect on July 1.

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 The closed office of the Mintz Group is seen in an office building in Beijing on March 24, 2023. Five Chinese employees at the Beijing office of U.S.-due diligence firm Mintz Group have been detained by authorities, the company said on March 24. (GREG BAKER/AFP)
The closed office of the Mintz Group is seen in an office building in Beijing on March 24, 2023. Five Chinese employees at the Beijing office of U.S.-due diligence firm Mintz Group have been detained by authorities, the company said on March 24. (GREG BAKER/AFP)

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This year, there have been many cases of raids on foreign companies’ offices in China and arrests of foreign companies’ employees, such as the detention of employees of the U.S. investigation firm Mintz Group, which has scared off foreign business people.

Some foreign company executives are now afraid to travel to China for business.