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Cautious optimism in standoff between Chinese weekly and censors

UPDATE: Chinese journalists back at work after "tacit agreement" with censors (Index on Censorship, 16 January 2013)

(CPJ/IFEX) - January 9, 2013 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Madeline Earp/CPJ Senior Asia Researcher

There is cautious optimism among China media watchers this morning over the news that a deal has been struck between censors and protesting journalists at China's Southern Weekly news magazine, which is also known as Southern Weekend. The journalists will not face reprisals for their protest, and propaganda authorities will not repeat the editing stunt (which transformed a pro-reform New Year editorial into a tribute to the Communist Party) that sparked the dispute, according to The Associated Press.

So how far should we be cautious, and how far optimistic? Unfortunately, it's too soon to tell. It is good news that officials have made a gesture towards compromise. The dispute should stand as a landmark for Chinese journalists going forward, proving that they have a platform to express their frustration with restrictive censorship measures. But it's also common for officials in China to cave in to demonstrators' demands for change as a quick means to resolving embarrassing public disputes. As local and international attention to the issue fades, protest organizers remain vulnerable to retribution.

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