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China: Southern Weekend staff strike for press freedom


Students from Nanjing Normal University show their support for Southern Weekend. Photos: SCMP

Students from Nanjing Normal University show their support for Southern Weekend. Photos: SCMP

Editorial staff at Southern Weekly decided to stage a strike after a dramatic turn of events Sunday night that aggravated a potential major crisis facing the Communist Party‘s new leadership.

It is the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper has openly staged a strike against government censorship.

The decision was made after the newspaper management took over the department’s official microblog account, and issued a statement claiming that a controversial front-page New Year editorial had been written by its staff and was not a last-minute alteration by Guangdong propaganda officials. The management also blamed a blunder in the article on an editor.

The staff later issued a statement via another microblog denying the management’s account and announced a strike. Unlike two previous open letters issued by the department, last night’s statement was signed.

“The statement [on the official microblog] does not represent the opinion of the editorial staff. It is a result of pressure applied by the authorities on the … management,” the department said. “The editorial staff will fight against the falsified statement … Until the issue is resolved, we will not do any editorial work.”

Journalists at Southern Weekly, which is also sometimes called Southern Weekly, wrote on their own microblogs that the Guangdong propaganda chief they accuse of altering the New Year editorial had been holding meetings with the management yesterday. They said Tuo Zhen initially agreed to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and promised not to take revenge against the editorial department.

The stand-off arose after the journalists blamed Tuo for turning the editorial, calling for political reform, into a tribute to one-party rule the day before publication. Hundreds of intellectuals, journalists and internet users have since signed an online petition condemning the lack of press freedom and censorship. A second petition – issued by 27 scholars from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan including prominent economists and law professionals such as Mao Yushi , Zhang Sizhi and He Weifang – has called for Tuo to be sacked.

On Saturday, Southern Weekend editors and reporters posted their second open letter on the internet in as many days, denouncing heightened censorship over the past year under Tuo’s watch and calling for an independent inquiry into the row.

“Two days after we demanded a formal investigation, the truth about what happened has not been clarified, but more and more people demanding the truth have been silenced,” it said.

“The incident [involving the New Year edition] was like the fuse on a detonator,” the letter said, adding that more than 1,000 stories were either censored or scrapped altogether last year.

“What we have been through was the endless routine of unjustifiable censorship, the killing of stories or entire pages and complete rewrites,” it lamented.

While most mainland newspapers stayed silent on the matter following a gag order from Beijing, the Shaanxi-based China Business News published a commentary calling the row a test of the leadership’s ability to govern and heed public concerns.

“The conflict between public opinions and authorities in Guangdong also underlines a pressing issue of greater importance: it is high time to review and reform our policies regarding media control,” it said yesterday.

Source: SCMP “Southern Weekly censorship row escalates as staff strike, hundreds sign petition”
 
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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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