Earlier this morning, Li Weidong, an independent scholar and former publisher of China Reform magazine, posted a weibo to his t.qq.com account, declaring there is now an agreed settlement on the Southern Weekend incident.
According to him, the settlement is as follows:
Huang Chan, the chief editor of the Southern Weekend, will take responsibility and resign; the Provincial Propaganda Department will not review any articles from SW;there will be SW publication tomorrow; the young people who have been involved in protesting will be left alone; Tuo Zhen has nothing to do with the intervention of the special Southern Weekend New Year edition.
Li Weidong also identified the key people in reaching this compromise: a famous female reporter (could it be Hu Shuli of Caixin?) sought help from Wang Qishan; Wang Qishan contacted Hu Chunhua and after rounds of discussion, a compromise was reached.
Li’s assessment is that this is the first limited success for Chinese journalists in the past two decades. It may have a butterfly effect, with larger consequences than the Wukan Incident. He believes many Chinese journalists will be sleepless tonight.
My question is: is this compromise achieved because the new leaders are more open minded or is it because of the courageous persistence by many journalists and their supporters in China? Could we say this is the first “political crisis” since the new leadership came in and it was well managed? If this is indeed the outcome, what do we say to those who predicted earlier that the Party will never back down because any concession will be perceived as a weakness and incur more resistance from the liberal camp down the road? Or is keeping Tuo Zhen is a sign that the Party has not really backed down at all?