News / Asia

China Free Speech Protests Spread Online

Demonstrators call for press freedom in support of journalists from the Southern Weekend newspaper outside the company's office building in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province, January 8, 2013.
Demonstrators call for press freedom in support of journalists from the Southern Weekend newspaper outside the company's office building in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province, January 8, 2013.
VOA News
Free-speech protesters clashed with Communist party supporters in southern China on Tuesday, as a local dispute about government censorship spilled over into a nationwide online protest.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Tuesday for a second day outside the progressive Southern Weekly in Guangzhou, where some journalists have gone on strike to protest alleged government editorial interference.

Minor scuffles broke out after activists holding signs and chanting slogans calling for media freedom were confronted by a small group of  party loyalists who waved Chinese flags and held posters of Chairman Mao.

The protesters are calling for the resignation of the provincial propaganda chief after censors last week allegedly blocked a New Year's editorial urging greater constitutional rights. The article was replaced with another praising the party's achievements.

The open protest against state censorship - the first of its kind in years - is seen as a key test for China's incoming leader Xi Jinping, who has called for the government to be more open.

Related - Chinese Paper Has Long History of Challenging Authorities

Kerry Brown, who heads the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney, says he does not expect Beijing to make any major concessions, such as dismissing the provincial propaganda official.

"If journalists were able to do that in such a key area...then they've really got a big scalp. And that will probably give the sniff of blood to others," Brown said. "I think if the party does that, it will probably be construed as a sign of weakness, and I don't think the party will be willing to pay that price at the moment."

Even though the protests outside the newspaper were relatively small Tuesday, a steady stream of Chinese celebrities, journalists and other public figures have applied pressure on Beijing by expressing their support for the paper in social media.

Related - Chinese Censorship Debate Grows Online

In an effort to limit public discussion on the matter, Chinese authorities have blocked searches for the name of the paper on the country's wildly popular microblogs. But many users were able to bypass censors by posting pictures and other cryptic messages that decried government censorship.

The government has so far not responded, and has allowed the protests to take place. But an editorial in the state-run Global Times on Tuesday said there will be no "surprise ending" to the situation, and that China is "unlikely to have an 'absolutely free media' that is dreamed of by those activists."

  • A supporter of the Southern Weekly newspaper in a wheelchair chants slogans in front of police officers near the newspaper's office in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 10, 2013.
  • A protester is taken away by plainclothes police officers and placed in a jeep near the office of Southern Weekly newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 10, 2013.
  • Leftists carrying portraits of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong demonstrate outside the office of the liberal Southern Weekly newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • Police separate a supporter of the Southern Weekly from confronting leftists protesting outside the office of the liberal newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • A police officer walks past supporters of Southern Weekly demonstrating outside the office of the liberal newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • Demonstrators hold banners outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, January 8, 2013.
  • Demonstrators hold banners, portraits of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong, and Chinese national flags next to police outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 8, 2013.
  • A man lays a bouquet of chrysanthemums in front of the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.
  • Demonstrators gather along a street near the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.
  • Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: remie from: canada
January 10, 2013 7:03 AM
@jonathan huang,
your comments are like a grade one student. Either you just got off the boat to canada or your dumb as a door knob. Im not only talking about this comment but ALL your comment.


by: Tony from: Canada
January 09, 2013 3:07 PM
China is very strict with the speech. People would like to say it it not democratic. However, I do not think U.S. is better than it. They let you say anything and protest the government. Actually, do they change a little of U.S.? NO! Everyone can select the president in U.S. But can they select the canditates of the president? NO! The world is the same.


by: Frank Zhou from: China
January 08, 2013 11:36 PM
Maybe it's a good phenomenon for China!


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
January 08, 2013 11:17 PM
Easy!, The southern weekly is just another communist party throat media. What happened is only an inner conflict nothing more. Stop wasting your passion. LOL
Making sure all media are under CCP control is the only way to secure the rising of China. At least, I support it. I support any thing as long as it is good for China as a country.


by: Anonymous
January 08, 2013 10:49 PM
You have no idea how nasty the censorship is.Every negative information about the government will be deleted.They won't even let their people search for keywords "communist party".What else can I
say.


by: billy bob
January 08, 2013 12:32 PM
Wait ! How are chinese citizens protesting online - I thought China controlled their Internet access ? [end sarcasm]


by: CcyY
January 08, 2013 10:31 AM
As mentioned above ,the matter of Southern Weekly is a key test for the new leaders which will be officially seated several months later.i want to cite a sentence which is always used by chinese offical media and make a little bit change about this sentence-“we have listened to what he said and will watch he does"


by: lolBisco from: USA
January 08, 2013 9:31 AM
Does anybody find it ironic that there are protesters protesting against protesters who are protesting the government for their right to protest?

In Response

by: caodatan from: asia
January 08, 2013 1:14 PM
those protester whom protest against protesters are the actors hired by Gov,you never knows what insidious ideas commie gonna come up with—they build up fortune by doing things like that.


by: jason from: dong guan city guang dong
January 08, 2013 7:19 AM
i am so sad and very dispointed to the government over the strict control to social media like nan fang zhou mo . i am strongly support people who is fighting the right of freedom on media , it is very important for both government and medial do verything under constitution .
this is jason , a man who comes from china

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: Canada
January 08, 2013 11:10 PM
I wonder if China is as democratic as USA, is the world really safer?
Or more countries gonna be invaded like Iraq and Afghanistan were not just by USA but also by China another Asian USA?
Just wondering, LOL

In Response

by: stentor from: US
January 08, 2013 10:12 AM
The Chinese were surprised to see Obama get a second term, and see it as democracy in action, the power of the vote. America is fixing itself and on the way to getting rid of republicans, demographically speaking. The Chinese are seeing all the anti-American rhetoric they've been fed doesn't add up. And of course, little Korea beat big ol China to global pop superstardom with Gangnam style, which has stung Chinese youth where it hurts the most. A REAL people's revolution is welling up steadily. Is this the sleeping giant Napoleon was talking about?

In Response

by: Ronald Johnson
January 08, 2013 9:26 AM
Be careful what you wish for. In the real world, 'free' means 'bought'. The free media is a business and they tell what they think will make money. How's that for the truth?

In Response

by: Anonymous
January 08, 2013 8:19 AM
Hope we see more coverage of this in the western media...it feels like that no one cares but without a democratic and progressive China, even the west will suffer.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid