Following the series of protests against heavy-handed censorship of China’s influential weekly paper Southern Weekend, the state-run Global Times recently ran an editorial that criticized employees of the paper for their protests and their strike. The Chinese version of the editorial is harsher by far than its English counterpart, averring that media who choose to oppose the government, “even they are in the West,” are “certain to be the loser.” The editorial sparked controversy after authorities apparently forced other media outlets to repost it on their own websites. Chinese Twitter user @MoralMachine vividly wrote:
I think it’s a very sad thing indeed that those media outlets were forced to repost the Global Times editorial. Being censored is a small thing, you feel a bit wronged, but what of it. Now, though, someone suddenly comes up to you and shoves a bowl of shit in your mouth, afterwards forcing you to spit it out on the faces of your beloved readers. Media like Sina can’t refuse, the only thing they can do is add a note saying ‘Repost does not equal endorsement,’ to let their readers know that this shit was forced into their mouths by someone else. This is the sad state of things in China, it breaks my heart.
Not all media in China were willing to repost the editorial, with both the Beijing News and the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald refusing. Widely-followed Twitter user @GoneWater claimed to have been present at the offices of the Beijing News the evening after the order was issued, when authorities arrived to enforce it. @GoneWater wrote that the Weibo micro-blogging accounts of the paper’s employees were all deleted, the publication’s president Dai Zigeng resigned, and the paper was told to reprint the editorial or be shut down. @GoneWater attributed the hard-line approach to newly appointed Chinese Propaganda Chief Liu Qibao, who insisted that the order be enforced despite the inclination of lower-level officials to ignore the papers’ refusal.
As officials have cracked down on the Beijing News, Sina’s censors have also been busy deleting the accounts of Weibo users who have voiced support for the Southern Weekend and its employees. Reuters reports that sources claim Hu Chunhua, Guangdong’s Chinese Communist Party chief, personally stepped in to resolve the Southern Weekend strike, but the paper’s editor-in-chief was still fired. What will become of him and others who have something to lose remains to be seen, but it is clear that the Southern Weekend incident is far from over.
[h/t Michael Anti]