News / Asia

    Chinese Newspaper in Censorship Fight Goes to Press, Protests Slow

    A man displays a latest edition of Southern Weekly newspaper at a newsstand near the headquarters of the newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, January 10, 2013.
    A man displays a latest edition of Southern Weekly newspaper at a newsstand near the headquarters of the newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, January 10, 2013.
    A standoff between journalists at an influential Chinese newspaper and government censors appears to have ended. Southern Weekly was released as scheduled on Thursday and unprecedented protests outside its offices in southern China - which have won wide support online - have tapered off.  Although the standoff appears to have ended, the fight about government censorship is far from being over.

    In the new edition of the Southern Weekly, readers were not given any clues about what might have ended the standoff. Online reports suggested that some sort of deal was reached between the paper’s management and its government minders.

    Neither has yet to release any information publicly and reporters and editors have been told to not speak with foreign media about the incident.

    “We do not know exactly what the specifics are, but I am assuming that they'd want a return of the status quo, which was what this really was about, originally the propaganda leaders stepping way over the line, It wasn't about no censorship or censorship it was about the propaganda leaders had really changed the game rules,” says David Bandurski, who is with the Hong Kong-based China Media Project.

    The backlash from the paper’s staff began last week, first online and later in the form of a full-blown rally outside the publication’s office. Staff at the newspaper say that, in last week’s edition, a propaganda official took the bold step of changing an annual New
    Year’s editorial - swapping out a piece that discussed China’s dream for constitutional government and voiced support for free speech with a pro-Communist Party script.

    Although smaller protests continued Thursday, the incident now appears to be in clamp down mode. Outside the paper’s office on Thursday, one supporter - a university student - was  dragged away by plainclothes policeman.  A video, which was posted online, showed the man shouting out the paper’s name as he was carried off.

    State-media outlets have said little about the uproar - aside from criticizing it - and those microbloggers that did publish information or speak out about the incident online appear to have been given warnings to stop.

    Cheng Yizhong is a Chinese journalist who helped launch Southern Weekly's sister-publication Southern Metropolis Daily, but is no longer with the media group  He says authorities first and foremost wanted to make sure the standoff did not turn into a big political affair.

    “This was a very important factor in how they wanted to resolve the issue, so they tried to keep inside information secret to outsiders or foreigners, using all kinds of methods," says Cheng. "What people probably cannot see is that they [staffers] were probably faced with just how much pressure employees came under and what type of strict control measures to solve this problem.”

    Analysts say what has happened at Southern Weekly and how the events have unfolded has thrust the government’s often covert, subtle and behind-the-scenes intrusion into reporting in China out into the public limelight.

    Not only have propaganda officials changed the editorial, but they also apparently forced the paper’s staff to cover up that fact and even prodded other media organizations to do the same.

    On Wednesday, several media outlets were forced to run an editorial written by the country’s fiercely patriotic Global Times newspaper, which blamed the entire incident on hostile foreign forces.

    David Bandurski says this spurred a lot of resentment online and the editorial quickly became the focus of a lot of jokes on China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging service.

    “They’ve really bungled this, and now what we are seeing with the Beijing News they have really turned this into a national issue through mismanagement, so we'll have to see over the next few days how it will pan out,” says Bandurski.

    The editor in chief at the Beijing News is reported to have submitted his resignation for the Global Times editorial.

    Although China’s media is becoming increasingly commercialized and subject to market and readership demands, newspapers must still answer to the Communist party.

    To obtain a license, newspapers need to be sponsored by the Communist party or a government office. Party secretaries are embedded in newsroom offices to keep a close eye on coverage and its editorial direction.

    Cheng says that the means that authorities control of the media is in sharp contrast with commercialization.

    “This contradiction is growing more and more intense and also impacts directly on the media existence, because if the media continue this way, and propaganda departments continue to impact like this papers like Southern Weekly, or the Southern Metropolis Daily they will completely lose all readers, because they are not afraid will go somewhere else online, on Weibo, on social media,” he says.

    However, given the broad attention the incident has stirred up, some analysts say that the incident could lead to censors taking a softer approach.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wangchuk from: NYC
    January 11, 2013 10:29 AM
    Censorship of the media is in violation of the PRC Constitution & int'l laws. Censorship is how the Party controls information and the population. The media is not the voice of the Party but an independent sector that is charged w/ investigating facts including govt corruption, abuse & mismanagement. The PRC will never be a mature society until the Party stops censoring the Chinese media.

    by: ed mays from: Brick NJ
    January 11, 2013 12:41 AM
    In the so-called modern world we still have governments that are afraid of it`s own people but in time social unrest will see to their ultimate demise.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora