Censorship in China

Global Times attacked over editorial on Southern Weekly

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 4:54am

The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid newspaper on the mainland, has come under unprecedented criticism from internet users and journalists following its publication of an editorial on Monday that criticised Guangzhou's outspoken Southern Weekly.

The Global Times, published under People's Daily, has long been known for publishing controversial commentaries.

But Monday's editorial, which said the Southern Weekly crisis was provoked by external forces, is being seen by some as a major blow to its credibility. The saga deepened when The Beijing News was forced to reprint the editorial on Tuesday.

"I just find the whole thing disgraceful," one Global Times journalist said. "The editorial jeopardised our hard work to produce good stories."

Former journalists at the paper said they found the editorial "heartbreaking".

"No matter whether the editorial is an order from the top officials, it is politically motivated," one said.

The Global Times' chief editor, Hu Xijin , maintained on his microblog that the phrase "external forces" was not used in the editorial, but was included in headlines on major websites to attract attention. The newspaper, first published in 1993, differentiates itself from other mainland newspapers through its nationalistic views and by touching on sensitive issues, such as dissident Chen Guangcheng .

It has published a less strident English edition since 2009.

Sources said officials originally demanded it be withdrawn, but the central propaganda authorities later allowed it.

Qiao Mu , a Beijing-based journalism professor, said Hu may have believed he could lead the discussion on the saga.

But he added: "He has put himself in a disadvantaged position."