Police move in as censorship row rumbles on at Chinese newspaper


By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 10, 2013 | 3 min read

A major censorship row in the Chinese city of Guangzhou that seemed to have been resolved boiled over again today as a number of people were taken away in a van by men in plain clothes with the help of police.

A Guangzhou protester is removed

One protester in a wheelchair was knocked from his chair, and carried down the street by the police and into a second van as he screamed "I've been kidnapped."

At one point a supporter of the paper wrapped himself entirely in newspaper and carried a sign saying “The media has been kidnapped.”

Police at the site shoved media and camera crews out of the way while the men grabbed the protesters.

Two of those taken away had been displaying banners calling for increased media freedom .

It all happened near the offices of Southern Weekly, a newspaper in Guangzhou that has been at the centre of a dispute over censorship over the past week.

Propaganda officials were said to have switched an editorial calling for greater protection of legal rights for one praising the government's achievements.

On Wednesday, authorities and journalists appeared to have settled the dispute and the newspaper came out as scheduled today - with no mention of the dispute.

The cover story was about an orphanage fire. Police lining the street outside the paper’s offices told journalists not to linger.

The week-long standoff however brought support for the paper from some of China’s most famous celebrities. Then came a government order that newspapers print an editorial saying there is no place for a free media in the country.

Chinese newspapers from the Beijing Times to Southwest Metropolis Daily have reportedly since printed editorials saying that freedom of the press is not in China’s future.

Citing journalists at the Southern Weekly, the New York Times reported that a deal was reached that would end the vetting of story ideas and the review of content before publication.

The Guangdong Province propaganda bureau said it couldn’t provide information to foreign media. Reached on his mobile phone yesterday by one reporter, Huang Can, Southern Weekly’s editor-in- chief, said he was in a meeting and didn’t have time to talk.


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