|Frowns greet Southern Weekly’s values statement
The liberal Southern Weekly newspaper at the center of rare protests over government censorship last January when its New Year message was altered, insisted on its right to “express the truth'' in this year's article.
The dispute at the paper blew up when an article urging greater protection of people's rights was replaced by one praising China’s Communist Party, AFP reports.
Demonstrators massed outside it offices in Guangzhou, in a rare stand-off against authorities over media freedom, AFP reports.
This year's New Year message today focused on its values in fighting for truth on its 30-year anniversary.
It took a largely philosophical tone, and did not contain any overt mention of last year's incident or any reference to the government's propaganda machine.
But it said: “As a newspaper that strives for the truth, we are sometimes powerful as well as powerless.
“But we have no choice... but to question, and express the truth industrially, professionally and responsibly,'' it added.
China was going through a period of “great rejuvenation'' and “transformation,’’ it said, but warned that presented an opportunity for “what is false to pretend to be real.’’
Nonetheless some readers were underwhelmed by what the newspaper described as its ‘New Year Congratulatory Message.’
“Compared with previous years' messages, this is really pathetic,'' said one post in a comment under the article.
Others said it was “a little disappointing'' and “lacks power.’’
Some reader comments did back the newspaper, with many simply saying: “Carry on – we support you!''
All Chinese media organizations receive instructions from government propaganda departments, which act to suppress news seen as “negative'' by the ruling party. But the censorship of Southern Weekly was seen as unusually direct.