Deal struck in China censorship fight; 2nd paper involved

According to The Financial Times a deal has been struck to end the conflict between the Communist Party in Guangdong province and Southern Weekly.

The FT reports that the party promised to remove some of the censorship rules and in exchange the editorial staff of the paper will go back to work. The deal was gleaned from internal chat group messages made available to the FT. (China censors and journalists end dispute)

At the same time, however the battle over censorship extended to a second paper. This time the paper is one directly owned by the Beijing Communist Party.

The Beijing News refused to obey a central committee order that all newspapers reprint a misleading and factually inaccurate editorial from The Global Times.

The Beijing News was once seen as one of China’s top newspapers. In 2011, however, control of the paper was taken over directly by the Beijing Communist Party Committee.

The China Media Project out of Hong Kong reports:

Dai Zigeng, publisher of Beijing News who resigned over censorship.

According to one version of yesterday’s events, The Beijing News received a visit from a Beijing city-level propaganda official after it refused to publish the Global Times editorial, which appeared in many papers across the country (and had been pasted across the internet the day before). The official reportedly threatened to dissolve the newspaper if it did not comply with the central-level order to run the Global Times piece.

After receiving this warning, The Beijing News held a staff vote to decide whether or not to comply with the propaganda order. The vote was in favor of “not reprinting” (拒绝转载). Soon after, Dai Zigeng submitted his resignation to local propaganda authorities and the mood inside the paper was reportedly dismal, with many staffers in tears.

The question now: Will this spread to other papers and news outlets? Will more journalists stand up or will the threats from the ruling Communist Party be so great that journalists will keep their views deep inside themselves?

In the long run the CCCP has to know that it will fail in its efforts. The Internet and wide-spread mobile phone access makes controlling the news more difficult than ever. As a result of having more access to the rest of the world, more young reporters in China are seeing how reporters in other countries are allowed the freedom to investigate and report on stories of interest to readers/viewers. And stories that expose corruption among ruling elites. And stories that challenge  official government positions.

It will take time. And in the mean time, the Chinese reporters and editors who stand up against the censors deserve (and have earned) our respect and public support.


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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

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