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The topic that’s been on my mind lately (but which you are free to ignore) is what the recent uproar over censorship means for China. I read this in a Japanese newspaper and wondered if it’s really true:
BEIJING–In an apparent attempt to quell the uproar over censorship, Chinese leader Xi Jinping expressed displeasure toward the media control division and said he would not punish journalists who disobeyed its latest order, sources said.
Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, appears to have given top priority to preventing the row from expanding further and threatening his new leadership installed in November.
Arguments for free speech erupted after the reform-oriented Southern Weekly based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, was forced to rewrite its New Year edition before it was published on Jan. 3.
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.
Are China’s leaders listening to the voice of the masses and backing down from censorship? Hard to believe. Can this story possibly be accurate?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.