Boxun News - English
RSF worries about pressure on Southern Weekend journalists
(6 - 09)In a letter addressed today to Din Guangen, responsible for China's Communist Party propaganda department, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders RSF) expressed its concern about the pressure on Qian Gang and Chang Ping, respectively editor-in-chief and front page news editor of the newspaper Southern Weekend. The organisation asked for explanations regarding the removal of Qian Gang and Chang Ping. "If it is confirmed that the two journalists are victims of pressure by the authorities, this would be a flagrant violation of press freedom in this country", declared Robert Ménard, general secretary of the organisation.
According to the information collected by RSF, Chang Ping, front page news editor of Southern Weekend, was removed from the newspaper's editorial staff so because he was allegedly ill and unable to work. Qian Gang, editor-in-chief of the same newspaper, was reportedly transferred to another post in the group which publish the Southern Weekend. According to the British daily Financial Times, in its edition of 4 June 2001, and the American daily Herald Tribune, in its edition of 6 June 2001, these removals are probably due to pressure exerted by the Chinese authorities on the journalists. They were accused of publishing an article linking the corruption of government officials to economic difficulties in rural areas. They had also criticised the harsh conditions of detention in labour camps suggesting that it could have bad psychological consequences on convicts and incite them to have criminal behaviour.The Southern Weekend is one of the most critical newspapers as regards the regime. In March 2001 it opposed to the governmental line in affirming that the death of 40 children in a school in Jiangxi province was linked with the fact they were forced to make fireworks. In January 2000, Jiang Yiping, editor-in-chief of the Southern Weekend, was forced to leave her post after the publication of an article on the death of a senior official of the Communist party which had been judged defamatory by the family.