Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Vitally important Chinese newspaper persecuted for printing the truth

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Southern Weekly, part of the larger Nanfang Media Group is widely recognized for its in-depth and aggressive reports on culturally taboo topics. The newspaper carried breaking stories on the 2003 SARS outbreak or China's massive network, in addition to stories about China's illegal detentions centers. Naturally, this has led to persecution from the Chinese government where reporters have been fired - or worse.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Southern Weekly has fallen repeatedly into the bad graces of Chinese propaganda officials. Officials have tried, but have only been rewarded with minimal success in getting the feisty periodical to conform to government standards.

Editor of Tea Leaf Nation Rachel Lu, a Web site that monitors Chinese media, says the paper has undergone several purges in recent years.

"There have been incidents where editors were replaced, and they would helicopter in new people to run the paper and they helicopter in a new propaganda chief to run Guangdong (province), where the paper is based," Lu says.

Restrictions have been successful -- but only to a certain point. "Some would say it's definitely been reined in a little bit. But it has basically retained that flavor, that sort of liberal bend, even throughout all these years where the government tries to restrain its coverage and angle," she says.

One of the paper's most notorious incidents was in 2003, when one of the group's editors published an investigation into the death of a young worker who died after being beaten in police custody.

The story led to the discovery of a vast network of underground police detention camps, a revelation that embarrassed Beijing. It also resulted in the detention of Cheng Yizhong, the editor who published the investigation.

Officials have also tried pre-publication censorship to silence the newspaper. The Southern Weekly claims that over 1,000 articles were censored to some degree in 2012 alone.

In the most recent case, state censors replaced an editorial calling for greater constitutional rights with one that praised the accomplishments of the Communist Party.

Small protests have since been staged outside the Southern Weekly, as well as messages of support from a wide array of Chinese celebrities and public figures.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)