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IFJ concerned by removal of senior media personnel

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 18, 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the recent removal of senior staff from two Chinese newspapers, both in apparent responses to political pressure.

Lu Fumin, Editor-in-Chief for Xin Kuai Daily (New Express in English), a newspaper based in China's southern Guangdong province, and Publisher Lu Yan and Vice-Publisher Sun Jian of the Shanghai-based Dong Fang Daily were reportedly removed or suspended from their duties within the last two days.

It is reported that Lu Fumin was removed from his post at Xin Kuai Daily and moved to sister newspaper, the Yangcheng Evening Post, as an editor on Monday July 16. The decision to move Lu is believed to be related to his decision to re-publish an article detailing the political origins of several current members of China's politburo, including Deputy President Xi Jinping. The article, in addition to other news, commentary and investigative content, was also temporarily removed from the Xin Kuai Daily website. According to a local journalist, the international and commentary content was only restored to the site in response to public outcry.

Although no reason was given for the sudden removal of Publisher Lu Yan and the suspension of Vice-Publisher Sun Jian, many in the media community suspect it was prompted by the Dong Fang Daily's publication of an article in May which accused China's government-owned corporations of stifling the country's economic development.

"IFJ is deeply concerned that the upcoming change in leadership within China's Politburo Standing Committee is having a chilling effect on press freedom within the country, with a heightened censorship regime swiftly censoring and punishing any independent political commentary", IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

We urge the management board of Xin Kuai Daily and Dong Fang Daily to reconsider the recent personnel decisions, and remind all media of their duty to defend their right to free and independent reporting".
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