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The World Economic Forum is erasing online traces of China’s “Davos Man” Rui Chenggang after his arrest

China Central Television (CCTV) host Rui Chenggang speaks during a conference in Dalian, Liaoning province September 12, 2013.
From Davos Man to Nowhere Man.
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This item has been corrected.

Few people epitomize “Davos Man”—the globe-trotting power brokers who frequent the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland and other locales—as well as Rui Chenggang. A famous business news anchor for state-owned Chinese broadcaster CCTV, Rui was often seen moderating WEF events, in addition to hosting high-profile interviews at CCTV’s well-appointed studio in Davos. He was also named by the WEF in 2006 as one of the world’s 100 most influential “media leaders.”

But now that Rui has been detained by police in an anti-corruption probe, the WEF is distancing itself from the formerly high-flying newsman. His profile page is now inaccessible on the WEF’s website:

This is the Google cache of Rui’s WEF profile page.
This is how the page currently appears.

Photos of Rui have even been pulled from the organization’s Flickr page:

Google’s cache.
Flickr’s current page.

But not every trace has been removed. It just so happens that I joined Rui on a panel on the future of media at the WEF’s meeting in Dalian, China last year. Here’s a photo from the event: although he is off-camera in this photo, his nameplate is still mostly visible:

World Economic Forum
That’s me on the right.

Adrian Monck, the WEF managing director in charge of public engagement, acknowledged in an email to Quartz that Rui’s profile had been taken down, saying: “The profile is suspended pending his current investigation.”

Asked about WEF policy for removing a participant’s profile from its website, Monck replied, “Conflicts of interest strike at the heart of journalistic integrity. This investigation into one of CCTV’s highest profile and most outspoken business journalists underlines the seriousness with which China is tackling the issue of corruption.”

Why is the WEF so eager to erase signs of Rui? Perhaps it’s also because the corruption investigation that ensnared him allegedly involved CCTV’s operations in Davos. Chinese news reports say that Rui and a business partner co-founded a PR firm called Pegasus that had business dealings with CCTV, which could expose him to conflict-of-interest allegations.

A senior executive at Edelman, which purchased Pegasus in 2007, confirmed to the Holmes Report that the firm “was engaged by corporate sponsors involved in underwriting CCTV’s presence” at Davos in 2009 and 2010.

Despite WEF’s efforts, the wider internet still has plenty of videos and pictures of Rui at Davos, and a sister event in Dalian, that can be found without much effort. Here’s Rui hosting a panel in Davos this February on “China, Europe, US: The Competition Challenge.”

Correction (July 15, 2014): An earlier version of this post stated that Rui was cropped out of a photo of a WEF event. While the photo does indeed appear to be cropped, it was in fact uploaded by a Flickr user unconnected with the WEF.

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