Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) recently decided to allow two Chinese regional papers, Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News (新民晚报 or Xin Min Wan Bao）and Guangzhou based Southern Metropolis (南方都市报 or Nan Fang Dou Shi Bao) to station journalists in Taiwan.
The Taipei Times reported that MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吴钊燮) had made this announcement during a monthly meeting with reporters. However, this only means that the two regional papers have been invited to apply to send reporters and set up bureaus in Taiwan, but whether or not Beijing allows them to is another matter.
Guangzhou and Shanghai were among the first cities to open the door to investment from across the Taiwan Straits, and both have sizeable Taiwanese communities.
Southern Metropolis has weathered a fair bit of controversy over the past year. The paper has a reputation throughout China for some of the most daring and edgy reporting in the Chinese media, regularly exposing corruption and other social ills, especially as they affect poor and marginal groups in China, such as migrant workers in China’s cities. The paper broke such major stories as the oubreak of SARS and the fatal beating of a young man at a police station.
However, willingness to push the envelope does not come without a price — last year, Cheng Yizhong, then editor-in-chief of Southern Metropolis, was sacked and, along with two colleagues, detained by authorities. Charges were not pressed against Cheng, but one of his colleagues was charged with corruption and is now serving a prison term. Cheng was awarded international recognition as the 2005 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, but was unable to leave the country to attend the ceremony and receive this award.
In late June 2005, an open letter signed by more than 2000 Chinese journalists protested the continued imprisonment of Cheng’s two colleagues. China Digital Times has several links to these and related stories.
Press Interpreter regularly features translations from 南方周末 (Nanfang Zhou Mo or Southern Weekend), a weekly newspaper belongs to the same group as Southern Metropolis, but in general none of these newspapers has English versions either in print or online.
Xinmin Evening News, by way of contrast, is a bit more tame in its coverage of both Shanghai local news and China news, but has as history dating back to 1929.
Shanghaiist is going to be bold and, without the aid of a large 8-ball thingie, predict that whether either says “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe,” Beijing will not allow these applications to be filed — most definitely not for Southern Metropolis, which might, given its more hard-hitting style, stir things up even more if it were to actually do some real reporting from that province far, far away.