BEIJING â€” Chinese journalists reacted furiously Friday to what they said was heavy-handed official censorship of a New Yearâ€™s message from a popular Guangdong newspaper, setting up a crucial early challenge for new leader Xi Jinping.Read full article >>
(Keith B. Richburg)Â Washington POST
...Censorship of Chinaâ€™s print media is a long-standing and ubiquitous practice, but having a government official actually rewrite an article before publication, and without consulting the editors, was considered an unusual intrusion even by Chinese standards.
The original message was titled â€œChinaâ€™s dream, the dream of constitutionalismâ€ and it expressed the hope that China would become a country ruled by law and the constitution, according to the journalists. â€œOnly if constitutionalism is realized, and power effectively checked, can citizens voice their criticisms of power loudly and confidently,â€ it said.
The version that appeared in the paper, however, was a sycophantic piece titled â€œWe are now closer to our dream than ever,â€ which praised the work of the ruling Communist Party and omitted references to constitutionalism, democracy and equality.
Beijingâ€™s censors tried to contain the resulting indignation by ordering all the weibo postings about the controversy deleted. According to the China Digital Times Web site, which tracks Chinese censorship issues, the Central Propaganda Department issued an â€œurgentâ€ notice on Jan. 3 saying, â€œUpon receipt of this message, controlling departments in all locales must immediately inform reporters and editors that they may not discuss the Southern Weekly New Yearâ€™s greeting on any public platforms.â€
The complaining journalists suddenly found their weibo posts deleted, and some had their accounts shut down.
But the controversy only intensified Friday with a rare open letter from a prominent group of former journalists affiliated with Southern Weekly calling Tuoâ€™s actions â€œdictatorialâ€ and also â€œignorant and excessive,â€ according to a translation provided by the Hong Kong-based China Media Project, which studies mainland media issues. By late Friday, more than 50 former journalists had endorsed the letter....