Not in my name: China editor quits over Communist clampdown

A newsstand outside the Beijing office of Southern Media Group that owns the Southern Weekly newspaper in Beijing, China on Jan 8, 2013.
A newsstand outside the Beijing office of Southern Media Group that owns the Southern Weekly newspaper in Beijing, China on Jan 8, 2013.PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (AFP) - An editor at one of China's more intrepid newspapers published a resignation letter denouncing increased controls on media under Xi Jinping, according to a cached version of his online post.

Yu Shaolei, culture editor of the Southern Metropolis Daily, posted a photo of his resignation letter on his Weibo social media account Monday night (March 28).

Yu had spent nearly 16 years at the Guangzhou-based newspaper, which earned a reputation for testing the limits of what could be reported in China.

The image showed a signed resignation form with Yu's reason for quitting given in large Chinese characters as: "I cannot bear your surname."

The comment was a reference to Xi declaring after a visit to official media organs in February that all outlets in the country must "take the Communist Party's surname".

Yu's post was deleted by censors, but was seen by AFP in cached form on the FreeWeibo website, which preserves posts censored in China.

"I'm getting old, and have been kneeling so long I can't bear it. Now I'd like to try to change posture," he wrote in the post accompanying the photo.

"Whoever's responsible for staring at my Weibo and notifying superiors what to make me delete, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Sorry if I've made you anxious the last few years, I wish wholeheartedly your work takes a new direction."

The letter is the latest rebellion against a chilling of China's media environment, with even loyal Communist Party members such as outspoken property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang having his social media account deleted by censors after he condemned Xi's comments.

Media criticism of top leaders is almost unheard of in China, where the press is strictly controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

A letter purportedly from "Loyal Communist Party Members" appeared on the state-backed Wujie News website earlier this month accusing Xi of a litany of policy mistakes and asking him to resign for the good of the country, before it was deleted.

Several people, including the relatives of overseas dissidents, have since been detained, apparently in connection with an investigation into the document.