Kommentar

Det kinesiske regimet er brutalt når det gjelder å holde folk nede. Men vanlige politistatsmetoder virker ikke i internettalderen. En kobling mellom modige utgivere og bloggere sprenger den første kilen i den kinesiske mentale mur.

Nylig ble redaktøren for tabloidavisen Beijing News sparket, fordi avisen har vært for frittalende, blant annet om hvordan opprøret i byen Dongzhu ble slått ned av sikkerhetsstyrker og voldsmenn. Slike avsettelser har tidligere skjedd i stillhet. Men denne gang har nyheten spredt seg via bloggere, både på kinesisk og engelsk. Myndighetene forsøker å stenge sidene, men greier ikke ta alle.

All publisiteten kan ha gitt journalistene mot til å gå til streik, noe som er uhørt i Kina. En firedel av de 400 redaksjonelle medarbeiderne skal være i streik.

Staff at one of China’s most outspoken newspapers have gone on strike following the removal of their authority-baiting editor-in-chief Yang Bin.

The protest at the Beijing News, a tabloid known for its forthright coverage of official corruption, is the first time in recent years that media workers have reacted so strongly to the political sacking of a senior editor.

Reporters stopped filing articles on Thursday after Mr Yang was moved aside, employees told Associated Press. Some reports suggested that up to a quarter of the paper’s 400 editorial staff walked out, although others said the original protest had been scaled down to several dozen after managers threatened the dismissal of anyone who participated.

Reporters at the newspaper told Reuters that a petition denouncing Mr Yang’s dismissal and the handover of control to more conservative editors was circulated among staff.

The Beijing News has made a name for itself with coverage of sensitive issues other papers refused to publish. Recently it angered officials with reports of protests in the northern town of Dongzhou that were put down violently, resulting in at least six deaths. It also attracted disapproval with its sympathetic coverage of a migrant construction worker who murdered his bosses over wages that had gone unpaid for months.

New media have played a strong role in publicising the Beijing News walkout. Blogs, private emails and text messages revealed that the paper’s campaigning editor and other senior staff were ousted for «political mistakes».

Myndighetenes mål er stabilitet fremfor alt. Men istedet for å dempe spenningene er deres politikk med på å skjerpe dem. Medienes omtale av konflikter fungerer som en ventil, som kan føre til korreksjon. Nå legges det lokk på og motsetningene øker.

At a news conference on Thursday, the minister in charge of the Chinese cabinet’s press office, Cai Wu, said newspapers must pay attention to the «social and economic effects» of their reporting. Newspapers «must play their due role to educate and provide proper guidance to the people,» Mr Cai said. «They must follow discipline and rules and regulations.»

Beijing paper’s staff strike after editor’s removal
· Critical tabloid’s workers in rare political protest
· Dismissal threats fail to halt industrial action