The journalist Hu Shuli has often been called “the most dangerous woman in China.” And she may become even more so. As the pioneering editor of China’s most influential business magazine, she managed to publish groundbreaking stories on official ineptitude and financial malfeasance despite China’s tight control of the media. She may be on the verge of even greater freedom after cutting her ties with the owners of her magazine. On Monday, Hu announced that she was resigning from Caijing , the publication she built into one of China’s rare voices of journalistic autonomy. Instead, she and a core group of reporters and editors were going to form a new magazine.
Hu’s 200,000 circulation Beijing-based bimonthly had a reputation for groundbreaking coverage of stories like the 2003 outbreak of SARS and shady dealings in China’s financial markets. Her connections and feel for the permissible limits of sensitive issues have been credited with helping Caijing score repeated “edge balls,” the Chinese term for a ping pong serve that’s within the lines but just barely. “We always try to find a way to [publish] something,” Hu told TIME in a 2008 interview.