China: Journalists unite to demand governor's resignation

Public anger continues to spread following the incident which saw governor of Hubei province Li Hongzhong [de] snatch a recording device out of the hands of reporter Liu Jie in between sessions at the ongoing Lianghui.

Taking their cue from a speech from Prime Minister Wen Jiabao leading up to the Lunar New Year about people's need for greater dignity and another last week calling for greater public supervision of the government, journalists, academics and others from across the country have launched a petition demanding Li Hongzhong's resignation.

This follows growing, since rejected, demand since the incident for an apology from Li, perhaps most notably in a March 8 editorial (now harmonious) from Caijing magazine, ‘Would Governor Li please apologize?”. Sophie Beach at China Digital Times has a thorough roundup of the various facets to the story so far.

“This ‘Two Sessions’ recorder is stealing-, grabbing- and governor-proof, perfect for you female reporters…”

The petition was launched Saturday morning with a number of prominent names and over 200 signatories in total by the latest tally; the number keeps growing on a Google Buzz thread, where an English translation of the petition has appeared, reading in part:

In their many weighty opinions on this matter, those from both the news and academic worlds speak now with the same voice, having found, in the shared shame this incident has brought upon them, the resolve to unite in condemning the terrific impact the Li Hongzhong incident has had. Regardless of your medium, be that newspaper, magazine, television, radio or microblog, or be you journalist from north or south, please do not hesitate in your resolve to continue reporting this story as it develops, as this is a battle for all of our rights.

We look to news workers to raise your arms and voice your concerns, at the same time that we welcome citizens to second the points made within this petition. Our tolerance has run its length and extends no further. People need to be reminded that journalists still exist in this world, as well as to be reminded what being a journalist means; more importantly, people need to know that their civil rights still belong to them and them alone. Having witnessed senior official Li's rage, the time has now come for him to see and hear the fury of the news media profession and how far that fury has now spread.

Beijing-based writer, blogger, publisher and Twitter fiend Mo Zhixu offers a bit more perspective on the backlash against Li:

12:38 AM Mar 12th 我觉得吧,省长抢笔事件在推特上也不要太追究了,说到底这事情跟新闻自由也没多大关系,不过是地方大员藐视了一哈中央媒体权威,如果两会自由采访,抢笔事件才与自由言论有关吧

I think with this Governor Li pen recorder-snatching incident, people here on Twitter shouldn't take it too far. All in all, this doesn't really have too much to do with press freedom, it's just a matter of a local government big shot being contemptuous of the authority of central government media. If there were in fact press freedom at Lianghui, then snatching someone's pen recorder would have something to do with freedom of speech.

12:39 AM Mar 12th 没日人民报的证件,连被抢的资格都没有,所以,这事件提升到新闻自由的高度,我看也不靠谱

If you don't carry People's Daily ID, then you don't even qualify to have your recording equipment snatched away. Which is why I think it's way off-base to play this up into an incident of press freedom [infringement]

1:04 AM Mar 12th 我并没有说不应该关注抢笔事件,我只是强调,这事情跟新闻自由关系不大。通过掩盖当下媒体的权力属性,将这个事件包装成新闻自由事件,在我看来是不成立的

I'm not saying attention shouldn't be paid this pen recorder-snatching incident, I'm only emphasizing that it doesn't have much concern with press freedom. It's hard to make that case if you deny the power that [certain] media currently have and repackage this as a press freedom incident

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