| GUANGZHOU, China
GUANGZHOU, China Jan 7 Chinese authorities have
detained some activists in the southern city of Guangzhou to try
to derail a protest planned for Tuesday to commemorate a strike
by reporters at an outspoken newspaper, several activists said.
The clampdown comes on the first anniversary of a rare
newsroom strike at the Southern Weekly over censorship, which
some experts say was the trigger for tighter controls on Chinese
media in the past year under President Xi Jinping.
At least three activists contacted by Reuters said they
would not join the protest after being warned by police.
"In recent days, those who were planning to mark the
anniversary were either asked to meet (police), warned, put
under house detention, forced to go on holiday ... or were
detained," said Wu Wei, also known by his pen-name Ye Du, the
Guangzhou-based deputy head of the Independent Chinese Pen
Center, which campaigns for freedom of expression in China.
Security was tight outside the gates of the Southern Media
Group, which owns the Southern Weekly, with at least eight
police vans and jeeps parked outside, and scores of uniformed
and plainclothes police patrolling the area.
Police at the scene declined to comment.
Journalists at the weekly went on strike for several days
last year after censors scrapped a New Year editorial calling
for China to enshrine constitutional rights. The strike ended
after local propaganda officials promised to take a lighter hand
Prior to the run-in with the censors, the Southern Weekly
had earned a reputation for pushing the boundaries in pursuing
agenda-setting, hard-hitting news.
"For the government, these kinds of commemorative events and
street activities are not tolerated within their social
stability framework," said Wu. "They have ... pre-emptively
clamped down on us."
On Saturday, police raided the home of activist Liang
Songji, taking him into custody along with three others,
according to two activists and online microblogging accounts.
Sui Muqing, a rights lawyer, said police had forced their
way into Liang's home.
A rights lawyer in Guangzhou, Liu Shihui, was also detained
and his whereabouts remained unknown, said Human Rights in
China, an advocacy group.
Prior to Saturday's detention, two other prominent rights
activists in Guangzhou, Guo Feixiong and Liu Yuandong, were
charged with assembling a crowd to "disrupt public order" during
protests last year in support of the strike. The pair are
expected to stand trial this month in Guangzhou.
In the protests last year outside the newspaper gates, some
activists called for greater rights and democracy and lay
wreaths of flowers in support of the journalists in a rare case
of a politically charged street protest being tolerated by local
Since then, the government has tightened control over the
media, punishing bloggers for spreading rumours on popular
microblogging services, while media outlets nationwide have come
under greater state scrutiny, according to many Chinese
(Additional reporting by Venus Wu. Editing by Dean Yates)