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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Chinese journalist says he was fired for being too outspoken about Tibet, corruption

February 1, 2011

By Alexa Olesen (CP) – 20 hours ago

BEIJING, China — A Chinese journalist known for being critical of the
government said Friday that he's been fired by one of the country's most
daring media companies for refusing to tone down his writing, the latest
sign of China's tightening grip on press freedom.

Chang Ping, a former editor and columnist for publications owned by the
Southern Media Group, said the dismissal wasn't linked to any single
piece of writing but rather his consistently critical tone.

China's censors routinely scrub domestic news and online content of
material they consider destabilizing or threatening to the communist
leadership, but the Internet is so vast and porous that forbidden
information increasingly gets through to the public. This has emboldened
many Chinese journalists and publications to push the boundaries in
their reporting, a trend the government is trying to contain.

Chang's employer confirmed he had been let go but wouldn't say why.

"Chang Ping's contract expired and it was not renewed," said a woman
surnamed Deng who answered the phone at the Southern Metropolis Daily,
one of the papers Chang used to write for. She said editors were too
busy to be interviewed and that the paper had nothing more to add about
the situation.

Chang, 42, drew fire from authorities and other domestic columnists in
2008 when he wrote an editorial saying that foreign media should be
allowed to report firsthand on bloody ethnic riots in Tibet and
advocating dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.
He's also written about corruption and China's need for greater
political and personal freedoms.

Southern Media Group's two main publications, Southern Metropolis Daily
and Southern Weekend, stopped publishing his commentaries six months
ago, he said.

The Guangzhou-based writer said that he thought his dismissal was part
of a Chinese campaign against free speech and press that has intensified
since jailed democracy activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize in November.

"I am very angry that I've been punished for my words," Chang said. "The
bigger picture, the background is that I am not the only one. There have
been other editors recently with other papers that have been dealt with
as well."

He cited two recent incidents documented by the Hong Kong-based China
Media Project, which keeps track of media reform trends in mainland
China. The first was the firing of Long Can, a journalist with the
Chengdu Commercial Daily in Sichuan who was dismissed last week after
writing about official negligence and influence peddling related to the
botched rescue of a group of university students in a remote scenic
area. Because of mishandling, a police officer died in the rescue.

He also pointed to a separate China Media Project report about Peng
Xiaoyun, an editor with Time Weekly, who was forced into involuntary
leave after his publication came out with a list of influential people
that included a jailed Chinese food activist and several people who had
signed Charter '08, a bold call for political reform co-authored by Liu,
the Nobel Prize winner.
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