After comments criticizing China’s ruling Communist Party were posted to the blog of Chinese newspaper Southern Metropolitan, the paper’s in-depth editor Yu Chen has left his job. Chen confirmed that he was no longer the paper’s editor when contacted by The Associated Press on Sunday, but would not divulge details surrounding his departure. “Let’s just leave it at that,” Yu told The AP during a telephone Interview.
Comments posted to the Southern Metropolitan’s official microblog were critical of the Communist Party’s continued control of the country’s military, suggesting that the Chinese citizens should have the right to form an army of their own. None of the comments were attributed to Yu, and the original poster remains anonymous, but Hu Jia, an activist and friend of Yu, said that the remarks were the cause of Yu stepping down.
China’s army remains under the control of the Communist Party rather than the national government, allowing the party a significant foothold outside of the government’s workings. The People’s Liberation Army has remained under the control of the Community Party of China since leading the party to power in 1949. Though the CPC has remained in power since then, military control has never been transferred to the state. Currently, the army is more than 2 million members strong, with no plans on being nationalized.
Though Yu may not have been the poster on the website, Chinese authorities hold webmasters and editors responsible for content found on their website, and material critical of the government is expected to be removed. Southern Metropolitan is part of a network of news sources that have been cited as offending by Chinese authorities. Demands to remove staff are often met by internal shifts in position, but Yu took the initiative and removed himself in this case.