China Pledges to Loosen Controls over Newspaper

Agreement part of compromise to get reporters to return to work


Propaganda officials in the southern province of Guangdong have agreed to loosen some controls over an embattled newspaper whose struggle against censorship has galvanized free-speech advocates across China, according to journalists at the newspaper.

The agreement was part of a compromise in which reporters and editors who had said they would strike continued to work to put out the newspaper, Southern Weekend, also known as Southern Weekly, which is published on Thursdays. It is an iconic liberal publication that has regularly challenged Communist Party officials and policies but has come under tighter control in recent years, particularly since the summer.

In Beijing, talk of another newsroom in crisis emerged on Wednesday as reporters at Beijing News, a newspaper co-founded by the parent company of Southern Weekend, said propaganda officials forced the newspaper, against the judgment of its publisher and top editors, to run an editorial attacking Southern Weekend. Some journalists broke down in tears in the newsroom, according to various accounts, and the publisher, Dai Zigeng, threatened to resign, but was still in his job as of Wednesday night.