In a throwback to the bad old days, a loose collection of Chinese nationalists got together in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan on the afternoon of November 17th, to “angrily denounce” four “traitorous sellout” publications based in Guangzhou (汉奸媒体), by burning several hundred copies of the publications. The news outlets named by the group are the Southern Metropolis Daily, Southern Weekend, Southern Weekly and the Yangcheng Evening News.
The patriots accused the publications of being under the control of American imperialist masters, while also “distorting history, fabricating lies, and slandering the prestige of the party in the eyes of the people”, as well as also comparing them to Cao Rulin (曹汝霖), a noted pro-Japanese hanjian (汉奸/”Wicked Chinese” being the term for traitor) who served as the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs during Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang Government.
Publications that ‘dismember Chariman Mao’
The private and relatively liberal southern publications, along with Caixin Media Company Limited outlets, are known for pushing right against the limits and agitating for greater press freedom in China, reporting on controversial and taboo subjects.
Cheng Yizhong, the former editor of Southern Metropolis Daily, was even recognized with the UNESCO World Press Freedom Award in 2005, for publishing articles on the SARS epidemic in 2003.
The publications were collectively characterized by the group as being a gun-toting skull with an American flag for a body, with a Chinese flag dangling from his mouth, with the words ‘Democracy’ and ‘Freedom’ written on the butt of the automatic weapons. In the place of where the ‘feet’ should be are the words ‘Oil’ and ‘Grain’. In the skull’s glasses are the characters for ‘Dollars’.
Those Southern Barbarians!
The popular notion has it that the relatively progressive stance of the publications is in line with Guangdong being a traditionally anti-northern (and by extension somewhat anti-Beijing and apolitical) attitudes.
There is also the cultural and physical proximity of Guangdong with Hong Kong, which means frequent exposure to a relatively free and open society, and satellite beam-in’s of news from local channels like ATV and TVB.
A similar anti-rightist protest against Guangzhou-based publications also took place recently in Hebei province, according to Radio Free Asia.