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Chinese scribe dispute settled

world Updated: Jan 10, 2013 02:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Reports said on Wednesday that journalists from a southern China daily have a struck a deal with the authorities to return to work on Thursday.

It wasn't clear whether the issue of censorship - at the core of the rare protests that have seen journalists coming onto the streets demanding press freedom - had been resolved.

News agency Dow Jones reported that authorities had assured that those who had taken part in the demonstrations would not be punished and officials from the propaganda department would not directly interfere with editorial content.

There's a verbal agreement in place. Basically it's back to normal, but we'll see how the two sides react to each other in the future," Dow Jones Newswires quoted a Southern Weekly editor as saying.

Under the deal, journalists involved in the protests would not be punished and propaganda authorities would no longer directly interfere in content before publication, Dow Jones said.

Unconfirmed reports also said the publisher of the Beijing News, a newspaper owned by the Nanfang Media Group (which also publishes the Southern Weekly, the newspaper in the eye of the storm) had resigned on Tuesday night.

The resignation came after Beijing News was forced to carry an editorial by the People's Daily-affiliated Global Times newspaper which said the Communist Party of China (CPC) would always control the media for the good of the country.

According to the BBC, the Beijing News staff claimed that Dai was still at work but added that the content of the publication indicates that it was supporting the Southern Weekly in its demand for press freedom.

But the government continued on Wednesday to push through its agenda. The latest Global Times editorial said press freedom "must have limits".

"It is simplistic to think that China's news management system only protects the interests of the government," it said, adding: "China's news management system is walking a difficult tightrope between the nation's development and the development of its media.