China shut the website of a leading pro-reform magazine

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    (Reuters) - China shut the website of a leading pro-reform magazine on Friday, apparently because it ran an article calling for political reform and constitutional government, sensitive topics for the ruling Communist Party which brooks no dissent.

    "Yanhuang Chunqiu" (China Through the Ages) is an influential Beijing magazine that features essays from reformist retired officials.

    In a message posted on its official Sina Weibo microblog, the magazine said that it had been informed on Thursday that the site's registration had been canceled and that it had not been given a reason.

    "The magazine is trying to find out details," it said.

    Wu Si, the magazine's chief editor, did not answer calls seeking comment.

    Attempts to open the website (δ±¸°¸) bring up a cartoon picture of a policemen holding up a badge and the message that the site has been closed.

    However, the article which seems to have offended the censors, written in the form of a new year's message, is still up on the magazine's microblog.

    "In more than 30 years of reform, the abuses caused by political reform lagging economic reform have become daily more visible, and the factors for social instability have gradually accumulated. Promoting reform of the political system is an urgent task," the piece says.

    Analysts have been searching for signs that China's new leaders might steer a path of political reform, whether by allowing freer expression on the internet, greater experimentation with grassroots democracy or releasing jailed dissidents.

    But the party, which tolerates no challenge to its rule and values stability above all else, has so far shown little sign of wanting to go down this path, despite president-in-waiting and party chief Xi Jinping trying to project a softer and more open image than his predecessor.

    Weibo users flocked to offer their support for the magazine and to excoriate Xi.

    "People who are putting their hopes in Xi need to wake up," wrote one.

    Xi, who became party boss in November, takes over from Hu Jintao as president at the annual meeting of parliament in March, part of a generational leadership change.

    Last month, a prominent group of Chinese academics warned in a bold open letter that the country risks "violent revolution" if the government does not respond to public pressure and allow long-stalled political reforms.

    China shuts website of leading reformist magazine | Reuters

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    China on again has indicated that it will not allow any comments on the Chinese Communist Party's or its Communist Party's policies.

    As was .covered in another thread of the Chinese Govt, in a Machiavellian manner, ensured that the NYT's reporters visa was not extended since he exposed the corruption and pelf garnered by the Communist leaders. this indicates that the new Govt of Jumping is serious about ensuring that the a doctored image of China is projected to the world and to the domestic audience i.e. the Chinese citizens.

    No wonder, it is no surprise that there is a flurry of 'good' news that alone is purveyed by the Chinese on various forum and their becoming angry as a disturbed hornets nest would be, if woken with the reality, of which they have only superficial knowledge owing to the control over the Chinese media.

    At the same time, there is no doubt that China is changing.

    Given the economic mobility and the opportunity to study and travel abroad, there are being exposed to a very unlikely environment where they find that citizens of other countries very empowered and have no reason to worry if they pull up their Govts. Abroad they also find a very liberated and free media and it is like a breath of fresh air.

    Taking these thoughts home, the new brand of Chinese are attempting to bring some transparency in their Chinese communist system.

    Baby steps, but loaded with opportunities for the Chinese people.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Southern Weekly journalists air anger with Chinese censors

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    An editorial in the January 3 edition of Southern Weekly was changed from a call for constitutional rule into a tribute praising the Communist Party.

    Staffers at the Guangdong-based Southern Weekly magazine have publicly expressed their outrage at the heavy handed intervention of propaganda officials who unilaterally rewrote a New Year's editorial calling for improved constitutional rule in China. A piece extolling the virtues of the Communist Party ran in its place. Sixty staffers posted an open letter to the provincial government accusing propaganda officials of "raping" the paper's editorial procedures, The Associated Press reports. Apparently, the editorial was changed by censors after the magazine had closed and was being readied for the printer. Staff did not know of the changes until the piece appeared in print and online.

    "We demand an investigation into the incident, which has seen proper editorial procedure severely violated," the open letter said, according to a translation on the independent English-language website Shanghaiist. AP says another 35 former reporters from the newspaper called for the resignation of the provincial party propaganda chief Tuo Zhen, whom they held personally responsible for the changes. Staffers also took their case to Sina Weibo, China's mashup of Twitter and Facebook platforms.

    You might be surprised that journalists in China would stand up to the government like this, given all that we have been reporting for years on media restrictions and the jailing of journalists. But Southern Weekly and its sister newspaper Southern Daily, based in the economic hothouse of Guangdong province that borders Hong Kong, have long been one of several vocal and independent-minded Chinese media. In fact, as Kristin Jones pointed out about a year ago in a CPJ blog post, "When it comes to having impact--shifting policies, changing local laws, and even provoking the arrests of party-connected criminals--the media in China have shown their power repeatedly."

    Which is not to say that media criticism of the Chinese government results in widespread reform. The government maintains active propaganda departments at the national, provincial, and local levels to head off what censors might consider unacceptable. Calls for democracy and ending the hegemony of the Communist Party; criticism of the military; mention of the Tiananmen demonstrations and the ensuing deadly crackdown; or discussion of religious groups like Falun Gong are all clearly taboo. But after that, the restrictions can vary from day to day and region to region. Editors and reporters push the envelope daily, but usually not enough to get anyone arrested. Too many violations can get editors or reporters fired or demoted.

    To complicate matters, enter the official English-language response to the Southern Weekly staff's anger. An editorial in the Communist Party-run Global Times, "Time to reflect on old media management," says:

    The reality is that old media regulatory policies cannot go on as they are now. The society is progressing, and the management should evolve. Traditional media is integrating intimately with new media in China, resulting in frequent migration of professionals and different ways for them to pursue their personal interests. All these means the traditional regulation mechanisms no longer fit the new environment.

    Tellingly, the paper did not call for an abolition of "regulation mechanisms." What's really needed, the paper says, is only the updating of the censorship regime to fit China's new media environment. It's the sort of dodge--taking on apparently controversial topics in official media in English for the benefit of foreign readers --that CPJ Senior Researcher Madeline Earp addressed as far back as June 2009, when the paper actually mentioned the Tiananmen demonstrations and their bloody aftermath in a piece called "Evolution of Chinese intellectuals' thought over two decades." Earp's blog post debunked the idea that the Global Times did anything other than damage control.

    As for that "new media environment" Global Times mentions? The University of Hong Kong's China Media Project is tracking both popular and official responses to the Southern Weekly incident in "A New Year's greeting gets the axe in China" as the story continues to unfold. The site also has a translation of the original editorial and the one that eventually appeared.

    Southern Weekly journalists air anger with Chinese censors - Blog - Committee to Protect Journalists
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Journalists confront China censors over editorial

    BEIJING (AP) — In a rare move, some Chinese journalists are openly confronting a top censor after a southern newspaper known for its edgy reporting was forced to change a New Year editorial calling for political reform into a tribute praising the Communist Party.

    Sixty journalists from the Southern Weekly in Guangdong province issued a complaint Thursday over the last-minute changes that they said were made without the consent of the editorial department.

    Another group of 35 former reporters from the newspaper went a step further Friday, calling for the resignation of the provincial party propaganda chief Tuo Zhen — whom they held personally responsible for the changes — while arguing that strong and credible news media are crucial for the country and even necessary for the ruling party.

    "If the media should lose credibility and influence, then how can the ruling party make its voice heard or convince its people?" their letter said.

    The party-run Global Times newspaper hit back with a defense of the government line, publishing an editorial saying the media cannot exist "romantically" outside the country's political reality. The spat has become one of the hottest topics on China's popular microblog site Sina Weibo.

    China's media in recent years have become increasingly freewheeling in some kinds of coverage, including lurid reports on celebrities and sports figures. Still, censorship of political issues remains tight — although government officials typically claim there is no censorship at all — and the restrictions have drawn increasingly vocal criticism from journalists and members of the public.

    Touching off the latest tussle was a New Year's message to be published in the Southern Weekly on Thursday. The newspaper's annual feature has become a popular and influential tradition because of its boldness.

    For 2013, the theme was to be the constitutional rule. The original version called for democracy, freedom and adherence to the constitution — a reference to promises made in the 1982-era constitution to allow such reforms as independent courts and the rule of law. The country's Communist leaders have been reluctant to fulfill those pledges for fear of eroding their monopoly on power.

    "The Chinese dream is the dream of constitutional rule," the original version read, according to photographs of the text widely disseminated online and confirmed in a telephone interview with its author, one of the newspaper's editors, Dai Zhiyong.

    That later was watered down as part of the newspaper's usual vetting process with upper-level management — a process that is part self-censorship, part consultation with Communist Party censors. It was watered down further, Southern Weekly journalists say, without the knowledge of front-line reporters and editors on the evening before it hit the newsstand.

    The version that eventually was published said the Chinese dream of renaissance was closer than ever before, thanks to China's Communist leaders.

    The journalists took issue not only with the changes to that message but with revisions of the headline and design. In particular, they said an additional message apparently added by censors to the newspaper's front page contained a major error about Chinese folk history. A reference to a flood control campaign supposedly introduced 4,000 years ago was erroneously dated to about 2,000 years ago.

    The phone for Guangdong's provincial information office rang unanswered Friday.

    In their call for Tuo's resignation, former Southern Weekly journalists said the man has brought the darkest time in the past three decades to the media industry in Guangdong, one of the boldest in China.

    Zhao Chu, an independent media observer in Shanghai, said the intervention was not isolated but had the sanction of Beijing. The party remains keen on maintaining its rule, and the Southern Weekly — a symbol of China's media ideals — became a target as it tries to control public discussions, Zhao said.

    Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote on his microblog that the apparent party intervention runs contrary to China's claim that there is no news censorship.

    "This clearly tells the international community that China has broken its word," he said.

    When Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked about the issue during a routine briefing Friday, she said she was not aware of the specifics of the situation, but added, "I want to point out that there's no so-called news censorship in China and the Chinese government protects the freedom of news report and has given full play to news media in terms of supervision."

    David Bandurski, a researcher with the Hong Kong-based China Media Project, said the Chinese government normally controls the media by guidance, and that censorship is not conducted in the form of red ink but through consultation among propaganda officials and editors. What's unusual in the Southern Weekly case is that propaganda officials apparently bypassed the editors, he said.

    "That kind of interference, without the knowledge of the editors, is very serious and worrisome," Bandurski said.

    It is still too early to tell if the incident is isolated or indicative, and the open letter by former Southern Weekly journalists is challenging Beijing to show its stand, Bandurski said.

    "It says, put your cards on the table, tell us where you really are about openness," Bandurski said.

    Southern Weekly journalists air anger with Chinese censors - Blog - Committee to Protect Journalists
     

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