Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
China 3 January 2007

Magazine editor removed because of coverage of corruption and land seizures

Reporters Without Borders today condemned Huang Liangtian’s dismissal as editor of Bai Xing (Popular Masses), a monthly owned by the agriculture ministry that has acquired a reputation for investigative reporting. Under political pressure, Huang’s superiors told him on 30 December he was being transferred to a minor publication.

“After starting 2006 with purges in Xin Jing Bao (Beijing News), Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News) and Bing Dian (Freezing Point), the Propaganda Department ended the year by unceremoniously removing the courageous editor of a magazine that did not hesitate to condemn corruption and land seizures,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The authorities are allowing foreign journalists more freedom, but at the same time, the Chinese media are still being kept under strict surveillance by the Propaganda Department and by local authorities,” the press freedom organisation added.

According to Huang, the publication to which he has been moved does not give “real news.” He said he feared that Bai Xing’s editorial policy would be reined in following his removal. “I am not sure that press freedom is going to improve for the governmental media,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “I am sad that my life as a journalist is being stopped like this.”

After working for Peasants’ Daily for 20 years, Huang was appointed editor of Bai Xing in 2004, turning it into a magazine specialising in the conditions of peasants and workers. Its website ( was closed last November by the authorities because of its articles on corruption.

The magazine’s most recent issue contained an investigative piece about land seizures in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Last April, it reported that the government of a poor region in the central province of Henan had build a square larger than Tiananmen Square in Beijing and had refused to compensate peasants who had been evicted to make way for the colossal project. The local branch of the Communist Party asked Bai Xing to apologise for the report, claiming that it had insulted the entire Chinese government.

According to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper, Huang’s colleagues think his dismissal was prompted by the magazine’s reporting on corruption, land seizures and workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, under the new rules for the international press that took effect on 1st January, foreign correspondents have been able to interview Beijing residents in Tiananmen Square without having to obtain prior permission. Reuters was also able to cover New Year celebrations in several Chinese cities without getting special authorisation.

In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed