Japan’s highly respected daily The Asahi Shimbun suggested in an article on Monday that Xi Jinping was unhappy with the way the “media control division” handled last week’s Southern Weekly ordeal. Specifically, Xi was unhappy with the way Liu Yunshan, chief of the propaganda department and a longtime Hu Jintao guy, forced newspapers around the country to carry a hardline Global Times editorial.
The article is anonymously sourced, so you’ll have to remember that government officials are usually great at planting stories, but definitely read on:
The propaganda department then instructed all major newspapers to toe the party line concerning the censorship of the Southern Weekly.
At a meeting in Zhongnanhai in Beijing on the night of Jan. 9, Xi, visibly displeased, asked if the media control division was not adding to confusion, sources familiar with the discussions said.
Xi was responding to a report from Liu Yunshan, chief of the propaganda department of the party central committee, on censorship of the Southern Weekly, the sources said.
Liu, a Hu Jintao guy, is part of the seven-person Politburo Standing Committee. As optimistic Xi Jinping supporters would like to believe, it’s Hu’s people who are continuing to screw everything up.
The Asahi Shimbun again:
Xi expressed concerns about Liu’s order that major newspapers around the nation carry the editorial that appeared in the Jan. 7 edition of the Global Times, which is affiliated with the People’s Daily, the party mouthpiece.
The editorial denied authorities’ involvement in the rewrite of the Southern Weekly’s New Year edition.
In an earlier editorial titled, “We need to think about the Southern Weekly in a level-headed manner,” the Global Times said, “We cannot continue old media control methods.”
Liu took it as criticism directed at him, sources said, and the propaganda department instructed the newspaper to publish the new editorial.
Xi suggested that Liu’s handling of the matter has harmed social stability because a problem in Guangdong province has spread nationwide, the sources said.
Hey propaganda department: Xi Jinping is right, you’re wrong.
If there was only some way to get this message to Liu Yunshan and his staff. An editorial in a major paper, maybe…
Liu had decided to impose penalties, including dismissals, against editors and reporters who disobeyed the order. But Xi gave instructions not to punish journalists who protested the propaganda department, according to a party source formerly involved in media control.
Xi Jinping is great. Liu Yunshan — fuck that guy. That’s the conclusion we’re supposed to reach, yes?
Alas, we’ve been afforded a glimpse at yet another political battleground. Perhaps the people in charge have finally come to grips with our global digital age and realize the game can no longer be won by merely controlling domestic media: international media can be useful as well. Standby for more of these type of stories from “sources familiar with the situation” — who, by the way, never used to talk.
Xi questions propaganda chief’s handling of censorship row (The Asahi Shimbun)