Editors at outspoken newspapers reined in

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 12:00am

The reshuffle follows articles on graft and scandals involving top officials

Mainland authorities have reshuffled top editors at two outspoken national newspapers in what appears to be another sign of tightening media controls.

Li Xueqian, editor-in-chief and president of the China Youth Daily - controlled by the Communist Party Youth League, the power base of President Hu Jintao - stepped down earlier this month.

He has been replaced by Li Erliang, former editor-in-chief of Market Newspaper, a staid publication controlled by the People's Daily.

Last week, the authorities ordered the Xin Zhou Bao, a hard-hitting, seven-week-old news weekly off the newsstands for three weeks and replaced its president and editor-in-chief.

The replacement of Li Xueqian, in his 40s, is significant given the paper's close links with the Youth League.

He is believed to have returned to the league to take up a less-important job.

A staffer at the paper confirmed Li Xueqian's replacement had already reported for duty, but declined to comment further.

The China Youth Daily has been very aggressive in exposing official corruption.

It was one of the first national newspapers to run articles and editorials criticising the Shenzhen deputy party secretary in charge of propaganda, Li Yizhen, for allowing the authorities to force students to watch a movie produced, directed and starring his daughter.

Under mounting pressure, Li Yizhen apologised last month for breaching central government regulations.

Last week, Xin Zhou Bao president Feng Xiaoping and editor-in-chief Zhao Shilong resigned in succession, leaving the way for senior reporter Yang Haipeng to take over as editor-in-chief, sources close to the newspaper said yesterday.

The news weekly, based in Wuhan , would also be off the newsstands for three weeks 'due to office relocation', it said in a statement. The next issue is now due out on January 5.

But there is no guarantee it will be published again. Another liberal newspaper, the 21st Century Globe Herald, was closed for a month last year but the ban turned out to be permanent.

Sources said they did not know which specific report had offended the authorities and prompted the reshuffle, but the newspaper's outspoken style over several controversial issues had attracted nationwide attention.

The reports included articles headlined 'The death of a radio hostess on a deputy mayor's bed' in Zoucheng , Shandong province , and 'Nanjing Normal University female students were required to dance with officials'.