Chinese media in the reform era walk a fine line between commercialized diversification and party-state control. Nowhere have these two trends been in more open conflict than at Southern Weekly (Nanfang Zhoumo), a Guangzhou-based newspaper known for reliably pushing the envelope on media controls. Soon after a new group of political leaders rose to power in early 2013, these tensions boiled over, with censors making draconian cuts to the paper’s New Year’s edition. Fiery debates raged inside the paper about how to push back against ever-tightening constraints on reporting, while daring public protests outside the paper’s headquarters demanded freedom of speech. As the protests came to an end, the party-state’s hold on media had only tightened. Silencing Chinese Media, a gripping insider’s account of these events, highlights the tensions inherent within the program of “reform and opening” and foreshadows the challenges facing Chinese media and civil society in this new era.
A thrilling insider account of one of the most dramatic and misunderstood acts of defiance by Chinese media in the reform era―the 2013 Southern Weekly incident. Drawing on interviews with participants and on WeChat records, Guan Jun presents us with a gripping narrative about the last battle of one of China's most famous newspapers. This final struggle symbolizes the evolution of Chinese media politics in the Xi era, and should be of interest to scholars of Chinese media and society, as well as to China observers and reporters.