Three Gorges Probe
June 11, 2001
The Financial Times of London and South China Morning Postreport that China’s censors have launched a clampdown on press freedoms, revealing insecurities among the country’s ruling elite threatened by rampant corruption and rural strife. The cause of their sensitivity seems to be a combination of an increasingly lively and emboldened state media, and the approaching 80th Communist Party anniversary, on July 1.
The starkest example so far, says the Times has been the dismissal this month of two senior editors at the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend, the country’s hardest-hitting newspaper with a circulation of 500,000. The newspaper is known as China’s most aggressive major newspaper, frequently challenging the official version of events with lengthy articles on official abuses, the spread of AIDS, and organized crime. Three Gorges Probe covered Southern Weekend‘s exposé of bidding irregularities for a chemical additive used in concrete mixing for the Three Gorges dam project (see Three Gorges Probe, October 12, 2000.) According to the Financial Times the editors were dismissed by officials angry at reports suggesting that government officials caused problems that led to rural unrest.
“Instead of articles laying bare the declining status of the peasant farming class that led China’s 1949 revolution, or how officialdom is steeped in corruption, or how industrial workers are being laid off by the million, Beijing is keen to accentuate the glorious achievements of Communist rule,” says the Financial Times.
Guangzhou’s media market is the mainland’s most competitive. That intense competition, not liberal tendencies, says the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, is driving Guangzhou’s media coverage of increasingly sensitive subjects.
For more information, see:
Staid papers nourish saucy little sisters, South China Morning Post.
Beijing launches press crackdown, Financial Times.
Three Gorges Probe: Irregularities in the Three Gorges bidding procedures, October 12, 2000.
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Publisher: Patricia Adams
Executive Editor: Mu Lan
Assistant Editor: Lisa Peryman