The Yunnan-based City Times was preparing to run an expose on the luxurious lifestyle of a Fujian official when said official got wind of it and ordered the paper to cancel the article and reprint the page. This resulted in thousands of copies of the paper being pulped, but not before the article quickly spread around the Chinese internet.
It’s not often that the Global Times, China’s most belligerently nationalistic tabloid, stands up for freedom of speech and this is perhaps a sign of how badly Fujian officials have dropped the ball on this story:
If the report concerning Li is true, the extreme measure of being forced to reprint should not be allowed to happen by any means.
Even if it contains a few inaccuracies, given the powerful influence of online public opinion, the effects can be controlled and remedied through statements or apologies.
The easy decision to cancel an issue of a newspaper shows how media outlets are disrespected by people who hold power.
They underestimate the consequences of decisions like this.
This is no longer a time when information can be blocked or erased. Those who attempt to do so will only find themselves in more trouble.
Respecting the media should be the motto of those who hold public power. Trying to manipulate the media will incur a high price.
The report in question concerned the Li Dejin, Fujian Communication Department official, who apparently has a penchant for luxurious accessories; the article featured photos of Li wearing a watch the paper claims is worth 50,000 RMB and a belt worth 13,000 RMB.
(h/t: Horace Lu)