Hundreds of people gathered outside the headquarters of a newspaper company in southern China on Monday, intensifying a battle over media censorship that poses a test of the willingness of China's new leadership to tolerate calls for change. The demonstration was an outpouring of support for journalists at the relatively liberal Southern Weekend newspaper, who erupted in fury late last week over what they called overbearing interference by local propaganda officials. At the same time, the embattled newsroom received backing on the Internet from celebrities and other prominent commentators that turned what began as a local dispute into a broader national display of solidarity.
"Hoping for a spring in this harsh winter," Li Bingbing, an actress, said to her 19 million followers on a microblog account. Yao Chen, an actress with more than 31 million followers, quoted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the revered Russian dissident: "One word of truth outweighs the whole world."