Trending: Censorship protests in China

posted at 3:21 pm on January 8, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Well, they would be trending, if the Chinese government allowed such things. Ah, the perils and difficulties of a communist regime trying to maintain legitimacy while running an autocratic plutocracy — the heart practically bleeds for them, via the WSJ:

Protests by journalists over alleged heavy-handed censorship at one of China’s most daring newspapers have garnered high-profile support in the media and blogosphere, with prominent academics, bloggers and even movie stars joining in.

The outburst has been fueled in part by expectations of change under new Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping, who has stirred up hopes since taking office in November with optimistic comments about the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

On Monday, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, to vent their anger at the reworking of a New Year’s editorial that originally called for greater legal rights but ended up as a celebration of the government’s achievements.

“Abandon press censorship. Chinese people want freedom!” read a handwritten placard attached to a bouquet of flowers left in front of the main gates of the building.

Demonstrators laid bunches of chrysanthemums, a flower associated with funerals, outside the newspaper’s offices, in mock mourning for the demise of the newspaper’s hard-hitting style, photographs posted on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging service showed.

Of course, there are all sorts of protests and outbursts that break out across China on the regular because of their many egregious human-rights abuses, but they often go unsubstantiated or unreported because the government crushes them and also happens to control the state-run media. This latest outbreak, however, is a protest on the very nature of the state’s media management itself, as well as a testament to the popularity of the boundary-pushing newspaper in question, not to mention the growing popularity of social media and blogging sites and the Internet in general. All of this information-sharing spreading like wildfire is a huge threat to the stability of the Chinese regime, and they are plenty aware of that uncomfortable fact — time for panic-mode?

The Chinese government’s main propaganda organ took a hard line Tuesday against anti-censorship protesters at the offices of the Guangdong newspaper Southern Weekly, declaring that Communist Party control over Chinese media is “unshakable” and accusing “external” agitators of fomenting 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 known as the Ministry of Truth.

“The party has absolute control over the media, and this principle is unshakable,” the memo said. “External hostile forces are involved in the development of the situation.” The memo added that every “work unit” must immediately “demand that its department’s editors, reporters and staff discontinue voicing support for Southern Weekly online.”


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The Chinese should hire a Sulzberger to consult on this issue, since the NYT seems to have successfully convinced nearly the entire industry of American journalists to self-censor. That’s proven to work more efficiently and successfully to achieve the same end than “heavy handed” external censorship.

MTF on January 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

every “work unit” must immediately “demand that its department’s editors, reporters and staff discontinue voicing support for Southern Weekly online.”

Shudders….. These people live our nightmare..

vinceautmorire on January 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

NRA branch office in Beijing.

I can dream, can’t I?

Rixon on January 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM

“The party has absolute control over the media, and this principle is unshakable,”

O_o

Seven Percent Solution on January 8, 2013 at 3:49 PM

The main reason that I do not fear China becoming this superpower that will compete with us is that the Chinese nation is not a nation of free people… Only through freedom can a nation propser on solid and strong foundations…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

The concern for the Chinese media would be even more touching if we hadn’t the very same problem here.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 3:53 PM

The main reason that I do not fear China becoming this superpower that will compete with us is that the Chinese nation is not a nation of free people… Only through freedom can a nation propser on solid and strong foundations…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

That’s a pompous statement that is prima facie incorrect because USSR was a superpower with the level of freedom far beneath that in today’s China. One doesn’t need to be a nation of free people to be capable of laying nuclear smack to one’s neighbor.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM

That’s a pompous statement that is prima facie incorrect because USSR was a superpower with the level of freedom far beneath that in today’s China. One doesn’t need to be a nation of free people to be capable of laying nuclear smack to one’s neighbor.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM

And what happened to the Soviet Union? Totally gone… Being a superpower is not only based on military capability or even economic capability, it is based on free people being able to prosper on their own will… The current Chinese system will eventually collapse because you have 0.005% of the population controlling 99.5% of the wealth and these are the top Chinese communist leaders and their families and friends… China is nothing but a giant slave labor factory…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

And what happened to the Soviet Union? Totally gone… Being a superpower is not only based on military capability or even economic capability, it is based on free people being able to prosper on their own will… The current Chinese system will eventually collapse because you have 0.005% of the population controlling 99.5% of the wealth and these are the top Chinese communist leaders and their families and friends… China is nothing but a giant slave labor factory…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

We can discuss about the ability to maintain the status but the Soviet Union was undeniably a superpower while it existed. So was Ancient Rome, despite an obvious fact that it collapsed quite a few centuries ago. And in today’s USA, people are not able to prosper on their own will – does it mean we’re no longer a superpower?

As for China, you’re a bit misinformed. One may not be able to become a mega millionaire without the Party’s consent there, but one can definitely open a business, develop it, prosper, and even become fairly rich. Much more so than in the USA.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

“The Democrat party has absolute control over the media, and this principle is unshakable.”

There, that’s more familiar. Well, except for Vulpes News, at times, and Rush.

Fallon on January 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

The concern for the Chinese media would be even more touching if we hadn’t the very same problem here.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 3:53 PM

I’d argue that our problem is worse. Some in China are fighting the muzzle. Our press accepted it willingly.

trigon on January 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Tom Friedman of the NYT supports this action by the communist government in China.

jaime on January 8, 2013 at 4:15 PM

We can discuss about the ability to maintain the status but the Soviet Union was undeniably a superpower while it existed. So was Ancient Rome, despite an obvious fact that it collapsed quite a few centuries ago. And in today’s USA, people are not able to prosper on their own will – does it mean we’re no longer a superpower?

As for China, you’re a bit misinformed. One may not be able to become a mega millionaire without the Party’s consent there, but one can definitely open a business, develop it, prosper, and even become fairly rich. Much more so than in the USA.

Archivarix on January 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

May be we need to take your freedom of speech Mr. Archiavarix the same way the Chinse communists do to their people and that you can tell me exactly how great life is… May we should have your children work a slave labor in factory for 50 cents an hour and then you can tell me how great life is… This is China…

Beside that ther is no freedom in China, the vast majority of Chinese live in abject poverty that we cannot even imagine here…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I’d argue that our problem is worse. Some in China are fighting the muzzle. Our press accepted it willingly.

trigon on January 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Who is the press? The liberal media? Yeah they will worship the democrat party because they are the democrat party… And because of this you are saying that we have no freedom of press in the US? How about the talk radio shows and the conservative blogs? Don’t they represent freedom of the press?… Yes Obama is a communist fool but no Obama did not take our FREEDOM away and cannot take our FREEDOM away no matter how much he and his communist party try… So let us stop all this BS doom and gloom… If they have already taken our freedom away this very site would not have existed and you will be in jail by now for opposing them…

mnjg on January 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM

When I was in China last fall, I played around a little on the Internet to see what kinds of things I might be prevented from accessing. I could access all my regular news and opinion sites (including this one). I could not access sites that come under the heading of “social media” (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook). I would get a “transmission interrupted” message.

I was told by the Chinese with whom I interacted that their government is universally despised (they love the military but hate the police whom they consider corrupt). The young adults there are hip and stylish and reaching out for the good life. I think the government is going to have its hands full.

SukieTawdry on January 8, 2013 at 7:04 PM

A bunch of pictures of the protests here.

DarkCurrent on January 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM

When I was in China last fall, I played around a little on the Internet to see what kinds of things I might be prevented from accessing. I could access all my regular news and opinion sites (including this one). I could not access sites that come under the heading of “social media” (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook). I would get a “transmission interrupted” message.

SukieTawdry on January 8, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Those western-based social media sites have been blocked since the Xinjiang protests in 2009, but can still be accessed via VPN.

And of course anyone in China who really wants to know what’s going on in China can come to HA find out. ;)

DarkCurrent on January 8, 2013 at 7:33 PM

…what?…JugEars isn’t in the picture waving?

KOOLAID2 on January 8, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Updates on the topic

DarkCurrent on January 9, 2013 at 4:41 AM

One of the things I occasionally do at my job is testing Chinese SIMs in cell phones to see if the lines are working. Sometimes I’m tempted to shout “FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY NOW!” during an active phone call to see what would happen. :D

TMOverbeck on January 9, 2013 at 1:31 PM