Chinese magazine editorial team dismissed without warning

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticizes the recent actions by the Chinese National Academy of Arts against Yanhuang Chunqui magazine. The IFJ calls on the Academy to stop any interfering, respect the signed agreement and to arrange a meeting with the senior management of the magazine to address the closure of the magazine.

On July 12, the Chinese National Academy of Arts issued a notice stating that Jia Leilei, a review committee member of the State of Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Television and Film, would replace Du Daozheng as publisher of the political monthly magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu. In addition, the statement also said that the entire senior editorial team was removed and replaced with a new team. The statement claimed that that the decision was made on June 27, however there were no consultations held with staff who were only made aware of the changes when they read the published statement.

On July 14, Yanhuang Chunqui issued a statement criticizing the actions of the Academy, also claiming that the Academy had breached an agreement between both organizations. The Yanhuang Chunqui statement said that they had signed an agreement, which allowed the magazine the right to appoint staff and maintain financial and editorial independence. The magazine has since retained a lawyer and filed a lawsuit against the Chinese National Academy of Arts.

On the following day, Du Daozheng’s daughter issued a statement on her social media accounts denouncing the decision by the Academy and queried the decision to dismiss the senior editorial staff, many of whom were either in hospital or outside the country when the Academy statement was released. Her statement went on to say that the social media accounts of the magazine were not controlled by the Academy, but that the staff were trying their utmost to fight or preparing the shut the magazine. On 17 July, the board of the editorial issued a statement that the magazine had immediately shut down because the Academy unilaterally changed the password of the magazine social media account. This action meant the magazine lost their rights to internet publication.

Yanhuang Chunqiu, is a monthly political magazine, with a readership of approximately 1 million people in China. It has the reputation as the most liberal and independent political magazine in China, which has resulted in tremendous pressure from the government.  Jia, the newly appointed editor, is a long-serving civil servant. As a review committee member, his role includes reviewing and censoring films and media content.

In April 2015, the magazine received a warning order regarding 37 reports which management had not submitted to the administration for censoring. Yang Jishen, the former chief editor admitted that the magazine had already compromised its position by agreeing not to publish stories on eight sensitive areas, including Tibet, Xinjiang and the Tiananmen crackdown. However, Yang said he continued to be pressured from the government and authorities.

The IFJ Asia Pacific said: “The Academy’s interference with Yanhuang Chunqiu is a violation of press freedom and a violation of a standing agreement. The Academy’s removal of the editorial staff and password change which subsequently led to the magazine’s closure shows clear disregard for protocol and press rights. The IFJ stands in solidarity with Yanhuang Chunqiu.”

      For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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