A tentative deal appeared to have been reached on Wednesday between Southern Weekly staff and Guangdong propaganda authorities, ending a week-long standoff over heavy-handed editing of the newspaper’s New Year message. But as an unnamed Chinese reporter told The Financial Times, “Southern Weekend [as the paper is also known] is a special case and has always been. A partial victory fought by them doesn’t mean a thaw in the broader censorship climate.”
Even as the deal became public, the controversy spread to one of Southern Weekly’s sister papers, the Beijing News. A propaganda directive obtained earlier by CDT ordered newspapers and websites to prominently republish a Global Times editorial blaming the dispute on foreign forces rather than local officials. Some complied, adding disclaimers to distance themselves from the article and peppering their sites with barely hidden messages of support for Southern Weekly. The Beijing News did not. From David Bandurski at China Media Project:
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.
Global Voices’ Oiwan Lam collected and translated online postings on the episode by Beijing News employees, among others.
@宇过天新 Tonight, I...
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