Beijing News: Defiance, Tears, and Porridge

On Wednesday, the row over censorship at the Guangdong-based Southern Weekly spread to Beijing, as its half-sister the Beijing News initially refused instructions to republish a critical Global Times editorial on the controversy. After a series of conflicting reports, it seems that the newspaper’s publisher Dai Zigeng verbally submitted his resignation in protest, but Beijing propaganda chief Lu Wei refused to accept it. “Naturally,” China Media Project’s David Bandurski had previously commented, “prop[aganda] leaders will want to keep Dai on as publisher until this blows over.” From Teddy Ng and Li Jing at South China Morning Post: “We sincerely hope [Beijing News] can faithfully record the progress of our time, speak for the people… and serve its duty in promoting [social] progress, good governance with rule of law, and a civilised society,” Dai said. Police cars were seen outside the newspaper office yesterday, a sign that the authorities were concerned that journalists might stage a protest or that members of the public might rally in their support, one source said. […] Beijing News, along with Southern Weekly and Southern Metropolis Daily, are among the most respected newspapers on the mainland because of their outspoken comments and reports on sensitive issues. After its transfer to the direct control of the Beijing party committee in 2011, there were widespread fears that the newspaper’s bold reporting would be reined in, and that did appear to be the case last year. Various accounts have emerged of the struggle over the editorial’s republication. The New York Times quoted an online posting by one journalist at the paper: “Some people look sad; some burst into tears; some shout that they are going to quit. We don’t want to kneel down, but our knees have been shattered. We are kneeling down this one time while gnashing our ...
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