Chinese censor row daily says reform should include open media



Beijing: A day after it ended its rare strike against official interference, a Chinese state-run weekly on Thursday said the policy of opening up, which is being advocated by the country's new leaders, must also be reflected in a more open media.

The Southern Weekly, a Chinese language publication from Guangzhou city, stated this as it resumed its normal operations after a two-day strike by it journalists.

The weekly also carried an editorial of the ruling CPC's mouthpiece People's Daily stating that the methods that the party used to control the media "must keep up with the times".

Commenting on the editorial, the Southern Weekly, whose journalists raised a banner of revolt for two days objecting to vetting of a New Year editorial by the CPC's propaganda official, argued that China's policy of opening up must also be reflected in a more open media.

"We should toss away old and rigid attitudes that are not good for fixing the mental knots and rallying people's minds," BBC quoted the editorial as saying.

Since his election as the new leader of the Party, Xi Jinping has called for more reforms and opening up, mainly focussing on the economic front.

The two-day strike by the weekly's journalists, which was called off yesterday after an intervention by the head of the local Communist Party, was stated to be the first such public action by scribes in China.

According to reports, it had its echo in a number of other state media organisations and the publisher of Beijing News, a sister publication of the Southern Weekly, reportedly threatened to quit over the orders to carry a People's Daily editorial.

The daily subsequently carried the edit, the reports said, adding, however, that its official Dai Zigeng may face disciplinary action.

The Southern Weekly journalists' strike came two months after the once-in-a-decade leadership change of the CPC in which Xi succeeded Hu Jintao.

Analysts say that the successful strike could put pressure on the new leadership to loosen the grip of the Party on the state media, which in recent years expanded its network with heavy investments in the face of competition by burgeoning microblog media, whose users' number is stated to be over 275 million.

China has over 538 million Internet users and their number is expected to increase to 800 million by 2015.

PTI