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Chinese editor demoted after Obama interview

The editor of one of China’s most independent newspapers is being punished for an interview with visiting President Barack Obama: Xiang Xi, the top editor of the Southern Weekend weekly newspaper who interviewed Obama during his visit to China in mid-November, has been named as "executive" editor-in-chief and placed under a new top editor this ...

The editor of one of China’s most independent newspapers is being punished for an interview with visiting President Barack Obama:

Xiang Xi, the top editor of the Southern Weekend weekly newspaper who interviewed Obama during his visit to China in mid-November, has been named as "executive" editor-in-chief and placed under a new top editor this week after pressure from the ruling Communist Party’s propaganda department, said three employees of the paper.

They all requested anonymity, saying they feared punishment for speaking about the move, which has also been discussed on Chinese-language Internet sites.

Xiang’s demotion could revive debate in Washington about the impact of Obama’s visit. It underscored the contention between Washington and Beijing over censorship and access during Obama’s visit, when U.S. officials’ pressed for opportunities for him to speak directly to the Chinese public.

"The propaganda department was certainly unhappy about the interview," said Michael Anti, a Chinese blogger and media commentator based in Beijing who follows censorship.

The White House had specifically requested an interview with the paper, which is known for its investigative reports on social problems and official corruption. They got the okay from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but apparently not the Party Propaganda Department, which forced the paper to cut most of the interview, leaving a blank space on their front page.

None of the articles I’ve read have suggested what Obama might have said in the interview to draw the censors’ ire. 

While speaking to Chinese university students during his trip to China in November, the president declared himself a "big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information." Ironically, that event was also partially censored after Chiense authorities denied the White House request that it be broadcast nationwide. 

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