State media

What happened to the Guangming Observer?

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Guangming Observer (光明网·光明观察) is a netizen opinion website hosted by the party newspaper Guangming Daily. Its articles, which are supplied by regular contributors as well as the online community at large, are frequently reposted by other news and commentary websites.

On October 13, Observer contributor Bi Yantao noticed that the site had stopped updating. On the 21st, he made the following blog post:

Guangming Observer, loved by observers both at home and abroad, suddenly stopped updating a week ago and to date has neither resumed operation nor given any explanation. There is evidence that the site has encountered some misfortune.

This writer noticed that on the morning of 13 October, the site stopped updating after posting a flurry of opinion pieces. On 15 October, I emailed an inquiry to site editor Shu Dong (pen name) but received no response. This was highly irregular, because Shu Dong is usually quite courteous to writers and there is always mutual respect between editors. This afternoon, I telephoned him twice without getting any answer, making me quite nervous.

Guangming Online is the official website of Guangming Daily, a "nationa, general-interest party newspaper sponsored by the CPC Central Committee." Guangming Observer is formed from the "commentary" and "netizens" sections of Guangming Online. In August, 2007, the editorial department of Guangming Observer issued a "notice to netizens" explaining the "Guangming Observer Spirit" and its editorial direction: "Uphold objective principles, rational attitudes, and constructive goals," "Address national development, social progress, and the people's well-being," and "Champion justice, chastise ugliness, and pursue beauty." At its establishment, the section's goal was to "become a window on the society we live in, a fair, rational, responsible observer and commentator."

After more than a year of hard work, Guangming Observer has become a platform for independent-minded academics and observers and has published a large number of insightful opinion pieces, becoming an influential online opinion site. On the non-updating Guangming Observer front page, I notice that the eight articles in the "Politics and Law" category are all fairly in-depth: "On what basis is Zhou Zhenglong barred from signing his appeal?" "Doubts about decorated police officers come from the power of the people, not 'meddlers'," "Before complaints can be heard, a complaint system needs to be guaranteed," "When traffic cops can't shake military cars, the law is harmed," "The truth can't be closed off," "What's with China's police?" "When officials are needed, are they regrettably too few?" "Police are decorated for solving crimes; what do farmers get for planting crops?"

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