How they see it, January 13, 2013

Southern Weekly censorship controversy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 January, 2013, 5:42am

1, Global Times

The Southern Weekly incident has sparked widespread discussion about press freedom. This is a debate that has already been taking place in China in recent decades. … Some even think that China has no press freedom when compared with the West. Is freedom of the press a principle that has a particular goal for society? Perhaps. Is, then, this goal to promote social progress? Many will answer in the affirmative. But press freedom must have limits. It should correspond to social demands, but also provide more than that. … China is walking a difficult tightrope between the nation's development and [that] of its media. We should maintain this speed as well as the co-ordination between the two. (Beijing)


2. The Washington Post

Xi Jinping faces considerable pressure for real change - not from his ossified party apparatus but from China's intelligentsia and emerging middle class. … Publications around the country baulked at running an editorial supplied by [propaganda officials] which bluntly declared that a free press was impossible. The issue of press freedom, [and] constitutionalism, is not likely to go away. A week before the Southern Weekly's editorial, 72 intellectuals released a "Proposal for Consensus on Reform" that called for adherence to the constitution. Xi is not likely to respond any time soon. … But [he] has been put on notice: His people are unlikely to accept another decade of inflexible dictatorship. (Washington)


3. The Telegraph

Xi Jinping now faces a far trickier problem than corruption - free speech. Journalists at Southern Weekend [a name for the weekly] have walked out on strike [against] censorship by the "propaganda official" who refashioned a critical editorial … into a paean of praise for the regime. This is Mr Xi's first serious test and early indications suggest he is treading carefully. Demonstrations have been lightly policed and the People's Daily said propaganda officials should … help the authorities create a "pragmatic and open-minded image". On the face of it, this heralds a … more tolerant official approach to the media. Whether or not it amounts to anything of substance will become clear in the next few days. (London)