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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.