Southern Weekly Update: Speeches, Scuffles, Chen Guangcheng, And Acrostics
We’re in the second day of censorship protests outside the offices of Southern Weekly in Guangzhou. Today: leftists have come to bat for the government, young men give speeches, and Chinese media rally to Southern Weekly’s cause in the only way they can.
Let’s start there. As noticed by John Kennedy of South China Morning Post, major news outlets embedded hidden messages of support for their media brethren in the form of acrostics:
As you might expect, the only folks in China allowed to editorialize on these protests are the propagandists and Global Times, who employs Hu Xijin. In GT’s latest, there is a baffling mention of Chen Guangcheng:
A closer look will find that former employees of the Southern Weekly and activists, including Chen Guangcheng, who is residing in US now, are among those who avidly promote the issue online.
Their campaign, ostensibly aiming at specific officials, actually targets China’s entire media system.
For media professionals, it is clear that under the reality of China’s current state of affairs, the country is unlikely to have the “absolutely free media” that is dreamed of by those activists.
The development of media must be in accordance with China’s own situation. Media reform must be a part of China’s entire reform process. There cannot be a “special political zone” set for media. The Southern Weekly issue will not be concluded with a surprise ending.
(Meanwhile, China Daily Show: “‘Global Times’ op-ed writer wishes he was on strike, too.”)
Finally, as expected, anti-anti-censorship protesters are beginning to make their presence felt as well:
Leftists protest against “traitorous” Southern Weekend. Scuffle with supporters. Very small numbers of both. twitter.com/jarmiles/statu…
— James Miles (@jarmiles) January 8, 2013
The rabble-rousers haven’t come to fisticuffs yet, but a scuffle was recorded by Wall Street Journal’s Paul Mozur, here, powered by Tout. You’ll see another short Tout in the accompanying WSJ article:
“Support the Communist Party, support Mao Zedong thought, support striking against the traitor media,” chanted a group of local government supporters, waving Chinese flags, as they approached the dozen or so Southern Weekly supporters who assembled Tuesday morning outside the newspaper’s headquarters.
…Supporters of the paper tore down a Chinese flag held up by pro-government demonstrators. One free speech advocate wore a Guy Fawkes mask, while others carried signs that called for protecting Southern Weekly. They waved 5 mao notes (equivalent to 50 cents in Chinese currency) at the government supporters, an allegation that they were paid to protest by local authorities. A shoving match between the sides quickly ensued.
UPDATE, 4:56 pm: Still waiting for official confirmation, but we have reason to believe Southern Weekly’s demise is imminent.