Jan 08 2013
BEIJING (AP) — Editors of a Chinese newspaper known for bold reporting were meeting Tuesday with propaganda officials to find a way out of a censorship dispute that has triggered protests and evolved into a political challenge for China’s new leadership.
What started out as a confrontation by Southern Weekly journalists with a top censor over a New Year’s editorial has rapidly become a focal point driving public calls for the authoritarian Communist Party government to loosen its grip on information.
The dispute centers on how the editorial, originally calling for political reform, was transformed into a tribute praising the Communist Party. Scholars have signed open letters calling for the censor’s dismissal, celebrities are speaking out for the paper on microblogs and hundreds of people gathered for a second day outside the publication’s office bearing flowers and signs in support.
On Tuesday, the paper’s editorial committee was to hold a fourth round of negotiations with its top management, which is part of the provincial propaganda office, according to a Southern Weekly editor. The editor spoke on condition of anonymity because of an internal directive not to talk to the foreign media.
Propaganda officials want the newspaper to publish — as per normal — on Thursday but editors are negotiating over whether to do so, and the terms under which they would be willing, for example, if they could include a letter to readers explaining the incident, the editor said.
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