Protests in the Chinese state of Guangzhou have erupted after a New Year’s editorial in the newspaper Southern Weekend was censored and transformed into a more pro-Communist Party of China message than the reformist manifesto it was prior to censorship.

The editorial apparently exhorted the government in Beijing to enforce the rights guaranteed to the Chinese people in the PRC’s Constitution. Freedom and democracy were on signs and placards.

There were counter-protestors holding Mao portraits and denouncing those who supported the reformist editorial as ‘traitors.’

The provincial capital of Guangdong saw mass protests in front of the newspaper’s headquarters with some in the crowd calling for the resignation of the local propaganda chief. The civil demonstrations are the largest in China since 1989’s Tiananmen Square incident in Beijing.

Newly minted Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made Guangdong the first place on his itinerary of places to visit in his upcoming state tour, likely because the city holds symbolic importance as the cradle of the 1980’s economic reforms that have led the People’s Republic of China to obtain the second highest economic output in the world in record time.

Authorities are relatively hands-off so far with regard to the protestors.

 

[The Economist]