Calls for Press Freedom in China’s South

-- Each flower blooms into strength --Something remarkable was under way in southern China on Monday: an open revolt at one of the country’s biggest and most popular news groups against propaganda authorities, who apparently censored an outspoken New Year’s “greeting” in a major newspaper calling for constitutionalism and greater rights in China. On Monday, protesters were gathering at the Southern Media Group headquarters in Guangzhou, capital of the southern province of Guangdong, holding handwritten signs and white and yellow chrysanthemums, the flowers of mourning, to express their outrage at the censorship. Among the signs, according to photographs circulating online, was one reading: “You can speak, he can speak, I can speak: Speak well!” Another read, simply: “Freedom of speech.” A row of people, each holding a single flower, held signs saying: “Each flower blooms into strength.” In a visible sign of how far the row is spreading, on Monday some of country’s most famous actresses, usually known more for posing than for protesting, were joining in online, with the superstars Li Bingbing and Yao Chen both posting messages of support on their Weibos, or microblogs. (Yao has nearly 32 million followers on Weibo, while Li has more than 19 million.) “Good morning, eight days work in a row and weekend isn’t the weekend,” read a post on Li’s account, a reference both to the newspaper group’s troubles and to the eight consecutive workdays mandated by the government after New Year holiday. “Good morning, there is no warm wind from the south, take care everyone. Good morning, in the severe winter we wait for spring to come,” Ms. Li wrote, obliquely but pointedly, to Chinese readership used to deciphering coded messages. A message on Ms. Yao’s microblog read, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world,” citing Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Southern Weekend Group is known for pushing the envelope on China’s press freedoms, but it is also a major business with diverse interests and powerful friends in the high places. Ms. Yao had been a guest of honor at an event sponsored by the group in December 2011, entitled, ironically, “China Dream,” a title very similar to that of the censored article, which also talked of “China’s Dream”, a dream of greater civil rights. “New Year’s Greeting” incident, as it’s being called, poses an early challenge to new leader, Xi Jinping. As my colleague at The New York Times, Ian Johnson, wrote, turmoil is “pitting a pent-up popular demand for change against Communist Party’s desire to maintain a firm grip.” And although the year is young, China Media Project, Web site closely monitors news media, society, politics in China from Hong Kong, outside China’s “Great Firewall” censorship, declared the incident was “without a doubt one of the most important we will witness in China this year” (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

5 Responses to Calls for Press Freedom in China’s South

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Xi Jinping and the new leadership of CCP has a mission impossible. How to control public corruption before it becomes systemic. At the same time, how to free the mass media, allowing citizens to denounce corruption.

    The new leadership thinks that public corruption threatens the stability and legitimacy of the Communist Party. The problem has two angles. First, it not clear whether the CCP has reached consensus on how to end total censorship of mass media. Second, even if the top political leadership agrees on that, can Beijing imposes its will and control on the lower cadres of the party? after all, old habits die hard.

    The question reminds me of a passage in Henry Kissinger’s book ‘On China” that I read in my last trip to China. During his trip to China in 1972, Nixon congratulated Mao Zedong for uniting China under his leadership and the Communist Party. Mao promptly replied: No Mr President. I only control Beijing and a few villages around it. One thing for sure. Without a relatively free media in which citizens can denounce corruption, Xi Jinping campaign will fail. Systemic corruption and impunity goes hand in hand with total state control of information and news.

  2. A tentative agreement to defuse a newsroom strike by Chinese journalists over censorship controls in this southeastern provincial capital had been reached by early Wednesday, and some reporters working for Southern Weekend, the newspaper at the heart of the dispute, were told that the paper would publish as usual on Thursday, one journalist in the newsroom said. “The paper is coming out tomorrow, and the propaganda department is going to hold a meeting with staff about this tomorrow,” said the journalist, who spoke Wednesday on the condition of anonymity. Several other reporters said that details of the agreement remained murky Wednesday morning, and that the deal could fall apart. Protests over censorship at Southern Weekend, one of China’s most liberal newspapers, had descended into ideological confrontation on Tuesday, pitting advocates of free speech against supporters of Communist Party control, who wielded red flags and portraits of Mao Zedong. The face-off outside the headquarters of the company that publishes Southern Weekend came after disgruntled editors and reporters at the paper last week deplored what they called crude meddling by the top propaganda official in Guangdong Province, which has long had a reputation as a bastion of a relatively free press. With a number of celebrities and business leaders rallying online to the liberal cause, senior propaganda officials in Beijing began this week to roll out a national strategy of demonizing the rebel journalists and their supporters. The Central Propaganda Department issued a directive to news organizations saying the defiant outburst at Southern Weekend, also known as Southern Weekly, had involved “hostile foreign forces.” The order, translated by China Digital Times, a research group at the University of California, Berkeley, that studies Chinese news media, said that Chinese journalists must drop their support of Southern Weekend and insisted that “party control of the media is an unwavering basic principle.” An editor at a party news organization said the term “hostile forces” had been used in an internal discussion with a senior editor about the Southern Weekend conflict. Several Chinese journalists outside Guangdong said Tuesday that a call by Southern Weekend reporters and editors for the dismissal of Tuo Zhen, the top provincial propaganda official, who took up his post in May, was probably too radical for higher authorities to accept (…..)

  3. AVANASILINGAM ANNAMALAI: The suppression of free speech in China is highly deplorable. What is the use of wealth and power without freedom of speech? Let us look at India. Recently, entire nation stood against a brutal gang rape of a Delhi girl. People of India were able to express their anger and views so freely that the Prime minister Dr.Singh had to intervene and took up this matter with top priority. People are invited to offer suggestions to amend existing laws to curb rapes. Is this possible in China? Some may say that China is growing because of restriction of speech. But India is also growing with whole hearted participation of every citizen. Free speech is a must to avoid frustration.

  4. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: India is not a model to be imitated by China or any other large developing country. True, India has a large British-tabloid press only accessible to a small group of urban educated citizens. Half of the population is rural, poor, illiterate and have no access to information from the tabloid press. Television is only available in large urban centers. Regarding the statement above “but India is also growing whole hearted participation of EVERY citizen, ” I’m not sure how to interpret the writer’s meaning. Perhaps, a cynical slogan used by Indian politicians to sell economic programs that keep privilege of the wealth while millions remain in poverty. Even money allocated to the very poor in society is stolen by public officials and politicians.

    Fact that explains why Mother Theresa of Calcuta became famous worldwide for taking care of India’s poor. India should be called the largest – corrupt democracy in the world.

  5. In a little noticed event on New Year’s Day, China inaugurated its first non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of soft power—China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA). Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi attended and spoke at the unveiling ceremony for the group, which elected as its president Li Zhaoxing, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress. Addressing the group after the vote, Li told its members that the CPDA would mobilize and coordinate “social resources and civilian efforts” towards the goal of “promoting China’s soft power.” In some ways, China’s desire to strengthen its soft power capabilities seems entirely logical. After all, ancient Chinese leaders masterfully wielded soft power. And as China’s economic power has risen in recent years, the Chinese government has adopted various measures to enhance China’s soft power, such as establishing global news services (most recently, China Daily’s Africa Weekly) and Confucius Institutes across the world. Outside of China some have spoken of a Beijing Consensus that is supposedly supplementing the Washington Consensus in terms of the most favored political-economic model. Yet even as China inaugurated its first organization dedicated to enhancing Beijing’s soft power, a number of disparate events in China were illustrating why the CCP’s charm offensive is doomed to fail. For example, in recent weeks the Chinese government has redoubled its efforts to censor the internet (…..) On a more primeval basis, people are attracted to confidence, and attempts to suppress information and dissidents creates the perception that, despite all its power and remarkable achievements, the CCP remains at its core fearful and paranoid. Few people are attracted to, much less want to emulate, those they consider fearful or paranoid. Which is why, despite China’s ancient history of soft power, and the soft power individuals like Ai Weiwei command, modern China’s soft power will remain limited under the current political leadership.


Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )


Conectando a %s

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: