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article imageNewspaper journalists in China strike against censorship

By Eileen Kersey     Jan 7, 2013 in Politics
Guangzhou - Strikes are rare in China. The authorities have many restrictions in place and those who are prepared to stand against the country's leaders know that they risk a great deal.
Censorship happens in the West, as well as in countries such as China. The UK Coalition government is attempting to pass legislation which will limit freedoms on the Internet. The excuse given tends to be to thwart criminal gangs and protect the country's safety. The USA and Canada have faced similar changes, some now in place and some still in the pipeline.
Censorship in China though is a whole different ball game.
According to the BBC journalists at one on China's biggest publications, the Southern Weekly, have gone on strike over censorship. Last week, as the world welcomed in 2013, journalists at the publication posted a New Year message calling for reform in China. As you may expect the message was not well received and it was promptly changed by propaganda officials.
Since then the situation has escalated. Staff at the Southern Weekly, one of the most liberal newspapers in China, wrote two letters in which they asked that the chief propaganda official step down. This was not only ignored but a further dispute began. This time it was in relation to the publication's microblog.
Protests have followed as supporters of the journalists rallied outside of the offices today. Banners declaring, "freedom of expression is not a crime" and "Chinese people want freedom". were carried by some. Hundreds of protesters gathered Monday to show their support for the journalists, backing strike action, reported Reuters.
The original message was called "China's Dream: the dream of constitutionalism". The area's provincial propaganda chief, Tuo Zhen, is accused of changing the article so that it read as if the people in China were "closer than ever to their dream of renaissance". The message of the original article which was "only by realising rule by constitution, effectively checking power, can citizens vocally criticise authority", had gone reported SkyNews.
The Chinese authorities have tried to bury the story but Weibo, China's Twitter, has been full of messages of support for the journalists. Magazine editor Lin Tianhong posted,
"All these years, all of us, our articles were killed, our mouth was forced to shut, we were forced to keep silent. So we started to get used to it, start to confirm ourselves, start to get familiar with the borders and lines between brightness and darkness, start to self-inspect, just like the frogs being cooked in warm water …"Then we went too far, seem to have forgotten why we entered this business at the first place. Why do we protect our colleagues in Southern Weekly? For me, just one sentence, life is short, how can we forget who we originally are?!"
China will have a new leader in March, President Xi Jinping. He had promised less censorship, but only time will tell.
Digital journal will update this story as it unfolds.
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