Chinese Official’s Threat to Reporter Ignites Press Debate

The New York Times reports on journalists’ protests against the actions of Hubei Governor LI Hongzhong, who responded angrily to a reporter who asked him about Deng Yujiao’s case:

Chinese media analysts say the reaction was a sign of a slow boil in the media over tighter government restraints. While the authorities have effectively reined in the media in the last year, Chang Ping, a prominent media commentator, said the Internet had vastly complicated their task.

“When the government tries to contain something, it could achieve the opposite result, spurring people on instead of putting people off,” he said. Mr. Chang, who was forced out as deputy editor of Southern Metropolis Weekly in 2008 for challenging censorship, said the controversy had given journalists “a chance to vent all their anger and frustrations.”

The governor’s outburst happened at a moment when many journalists are chafing under the incessant orders and regulations of state censors. Some liberal members of the media are agitating for more freedom, even as the government bolsters state-controlled news agencies and expands its control over mass communication, from cellphone messages to individual Web sites.