News Censorship in China

State control and sensitive news

8th September

Off the Rails...

Beijing takes control of two newspapers in apparent response to embarrassment over unsafe trains

The Beijing propaganda bureau has taken control of two city newspapers known for bold reporting.

Some journalists blamed the development on official anger at the reporting of the fatal high-speed train crash in Wenzhou in July, although others believe it reflects a broader struggle over control of the media.

It means there will be so much we can't do, an employee of one of the affected titles said. [Before] there was news that other papers couldn't do but we could.

Previously, the papers were overseen by state level propaganda authorities. Journalists fear the switch may also restrict their ability to cover events in the capital and sensitive news from other areas.

It's been a headache for the Beijing propaganda authorities that they didn't directly control the two newspapers, Wen Yunchao, a Hong Kong-based media analyst, told the South China Morning Post: They could only influence editorial content through the help of the central publicity department.


15th November

Update: Unverifiable Sources...

China lays out new restrictions on journalists using unverified news sources

  China's press censors at the General Administration of Press and Publication have released new restrictions on journalism.

Some regulations simply reiterate journalistic best practices, others introduce new restrictions:

Reporters are required to be objective and report all sides of a story. They are prohibited from aggregating reports or relying on second-hand accounts that have not been independently verified, in particular information obtained from online sources, outside contributors, or by phone. News organizations must set up systems to guard against the publication of false reports and strengthen responsibility at all levels and through every stage of the editorial process, including the establishment of procedures to investigate errors and publish corrections and apologies.

The rules state that journalists should rely on in-person interviews, authoritative sources of information, and verifiable facts in their reporting. Critical news reports must be based on information from at least two different sources, and journalists must retain evidence of the information that has been received and verified. The use of anonymous sources is discouraged, with limited exceptions for national security, privacy or other special reasons, and reporters are cautioned against describing anonymous sources with phrases such as a person familiar with the matter, a person involved in the matter, or an authoritative person. Likewise, the use of pen names is barred, and reporters and editors involved in a story must sign their real names to it.

Crucially, the rules also reiterate that reporters must be licensed by and warns news organizations against hiring reporters on a temporary basis, eg freelancers and temps.


17th February

 Offsite Article: Press Censors Claim they are Not Censors, Just Misunderstood...

Chinese propaganda machine tries to win over foreign journalists and to play down the repression

See article from



Updated: A Brave Protest...

Chinese newspaper staff write open letters protesting against an editorial being censored

Link Here 10th January 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

Journalists at a leading Chinese newspaper have called for a chief newspaper censor to resign, in a rare protest against censorship.

Prominent former staff and interns at the Southern Weekly urged the official to quit after he changed an editorial into a Communist Party tribute. They accused him of being dictatorial in an era of growing openness .

The row at the Southern Weekly - known for hard-hitting investigations and testing the limits of censorship - erupted after a new year editorial calling for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed at the last minute to one extolling the virtues of the Communist Party.

In two open letters, 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper have demanded the resignation of the provincial propaganda chief in Guangdong, Tuo Zhen. editor Zhuang Chen says it is thought to be the first time there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.

The row comes as the website of another liberal journal was closed after it ran an essay urging political reform. The influential online magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu (or China Through the Ages), had called on China's leaders to guarantee constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.

Update: Street Protest

8th January 2013. See  article from

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of a southern newspaper on Monday in a rare display of public anger over China's draconian censorship regulations. Many held signs calling for greater press freedom and expressing support for the newspaper's editorial employees, some of whom have gone on strike against the provincial propaganda authority's interference with a recent editorial.

Widely circulated pictures on microblogs show large groups of young people holding up handwritten anti-censorship messages and grappling with police.

This incident could mark the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper have openly staged a strike against government censorship, reported the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Update: Truce

10th January 2013. See  article from

Reports from China suggest journalists at a newspaper embroiled in a censorship row are returning to work after an agreement was reached.

Staff at Southern Weekly had demanded that a top censor and propaganda chief step down after a New Year message was changed.

On Tuesday, editorial propaganda from the state-run Global Times blamed the incident on activists outside the media industry was republished on multiple news sites - the result, according to reports, of a government directive. But several major news portals carried a disclaimer saying they did not endorse the piece and a number of newspapers did not run it, in an apparent show of solidarity.

Reports citing sources both from the paper's staff and people close them said a deal to end the dispute was agreed on Tuesday evening. Thursday's edition would be published as normal and most staff would not be punished, Reuters reported.

However, online reports citing microblogs suggest the row may have widened to include a well-known daily, Beijing News.

Unconfirmed reports said its chief editor, Dai Zigeng, had resigned over pressure to publish the Global Times editorial.

Update: Jailed

27th November 2015. See  article from

China has sentenced three human rights activists to harsh prison terms for participating in an anti-censorship protest in 2013. The attorney for the three, Zhang Lei, told VOA that he is shocked and angered by the verdict, which gave a sentence of six years to activist Guo Feixiong.

Activists Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng were sentenced to three years and 2 years, respectively, for participating in the same demonstration.

The three were charged with gathering crowds to disturb social order and Guo received the additional charge of picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Both charges are often used broadly against dissidents.

The protest they took part in was a weeklong peaceful demonstration in 2013 outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper. The demonstrators called on Beijing to give up censorship practices that affected the paper.

Zhang said he will be filing appeals for all three of his clients.




Vulgar Accusations...

Chinese newspaper banned for sexy pictures in its celebrity news

Link Here 6th July 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news