A popular newspaper in China has been ordered to shut down over “vulgar” content. The Shandong daily run by Dazhong News Group had yet to celebrate its first anniversary.
“The Blue Express Daily” (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city published a letter on its front page on Friday announcing that the authorities had asked them to close down. It reads, “Dear readers, we'll always appreciate and remember your care, support and help since our beginning," it read. "Let's stand together through thick and thin, and let's look forward to our return.”
In an interview given to South China Morning Post, Editor-in-Chief Han Hao said that the banned newspaper employed more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000. He also hoped to bring the publication back but said that it would be the officials who would make the last call.
SCMP also published an emotional poem entitled “Maybe” by a Chinese poet Shu Ting over the abrupt closing down of the newspaper. The poem signifies hope that ‘maybe’ someday the publication would come back. The poem reads:
“Maybe the heavier the burden on our shoulder lies, the firmer our belief is.
Maybe we don’t have other choices due to calls we can’t resist.”
Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at The Blue Express Daily has cited that the newspaper was ordered to be shut down over “vulgar” content and that it is a made-up accusation by a business rival. According to Quancheng, they only print photos of “pretty” women who were celebrities in the entertainment section.
There were also details of a previous news report of an incident when The Blue Express Daily’s office was attacked by thugs suggesting there might be a possibility that their cancellation is a result of conspiracy.
Also, users on Weibo cited that the newspaper was not vulgar in any sense. On the other hand, it was a source of getting reliable information about the government policies and everyday problems faced by the common man in China.
China is a country where the government exercises strict censorship rules and it has a history of controlling the press. Just in January this year, outcry began in Guangzhou after reporters at the influential Southern Weekly newspaper accused censors of replacing an original New Year's letter to readers that called for a constitutional government with another piece lauding the party's achievements.
Whether or the Chinese government is involved in the closing of The Blue Express Daily is not confirmed. And the newspaper is not coming back for now.