Urgent memo blasts online newspaper in China
BEIJING — Declaring that Communist Party control over Chinese media is “unshakable,” the government's main propaganda organ on Tuesday appeared to take a hard line against the anti-censorship protesters at the offices of the Guangdong newspaper Southern Weekly, and warned darkly that mostly unnamed foreign agitators were behind the unrest.
The “urgent memo” from the ruling party's Central Propaganda Department was sent to media heads and local party chiefs. It was obtained and translated by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post and the Web site China Digital Times, which regularly publishes edicts from China's censorship authorities and is derisively called the “Ministry of Truth.”
“The party has absolute control over the media, and this principle is unshakable,” the memo said, according to the various translations. “External hostile forces are involved in the development of the situation.” The memo said that every “work unit” must immediately “demand that its department's editors, reporters and staff discontinue voicing support for Southern Weekly online.”
The protests began last week when the reform-minded Southern Weekly's editors and reporters complained that a front page New Year's Day message to readers — expressing the “dream” that China would soon be ruled by a constitution — was substantially rewritten and watered down into an obsequious ode to the Communist Party. The editors claimed the text was rewritten without their knowledge by the party's Guangdong propaganda chief, Tuo Zhen, who has become the principle target of the demonstrators' ire.
A largely online protest by the journalists quickly gathered steam around the country, drawing support from noted actors and actresses, writers, business tycoons and others to decry heavy-handed government censorship of all Chinese media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More Iraq deployments may be needed as terrorist fight intensifies, Army chief says
- Scotland’s ‘No’ will change Britain
- Shiite, Sunni clashes in Yemeni capital kill 120
- Floods paralyze Manila
- Ukraine plan would give rebels self-rule to end fighting
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- 2,900 African migrants killed this year on Mediterranean Sea
- Scots reject independence from United Kingdom in historic vote
- 21 massacred in Mexico, witnesses say
- Blasts kill dozens in Baghdad area
- Afghan power-sharing deal at a ‘deadlock’