Senior staff at two major newspapers have been transferred or suspended this week, prompting widespread but unconfirmed speculation about political motivations. From Louise Ho at the South China Morning Post:
Lu Yan, publisher of the Oriental Morning Post, was transferred to head another division of the Shanghai-based Wenxin United Press Group that owns the paper, and deputy editor-in-chief Sun Jian was suspended, according to two sources at the newspaper who declined to be named.
On Monday, Guangdong’s New Express announced that its chief editor, Lu Fumin, had been removed from his post to head the political section of a sister newspaper, while its national and international coverage was slashed and its op-ed page eliminated.
A separate veteran Shanghai-based journalist said that municipal party secretary Yu Zhengsheng was unhappy with the newspaper’s stories. “Yu has criticised some of the newspaper’s reports in recent months, so the paper had to do something about it,” he said.
[…] Shanghai party boss Yu has been widely regarded as a front runner to enter the party’s top echelons at its national congress in the autumn.
Tania Branigan’s report at The Guardian brought together a range of perspectives on the shakeups:
“I think these can probably be read as the surfacing of tensions playing out on a daily basis across the country’s media. These are probably more egregious examples of the tightening of everyday control ahead of the 18th party congress [where the new leadership will be unveiled],” said David Bandurski of Hong Kong University’s China Media Project.
He stressed that the moves should not be seen as part of a co-ordinated crackdown and could be related to local as much as national issues.
[…] Li Datong, an independent commentator and former journalist, said he thought it was probably not a press freedom issue, adding: “It
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