Journalists at Southern Weekend, one of China's most liberal newspapers, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.
According to Reuters, the standoff began late last week in Guangdong province when reporters at the newspaper — also known in English as Southern Weekly — accused censors of replacing an editorial in which the paper called for a constitutional government with a piece that praised the Communist Party's accomplishments.
Though Chinese media are required to submit their publications for approval, unauthorized edits like the one made to the editorial are uncommon, The Next Web reported.
BBC News reported that this may be the first time there has been a "direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials."
Outraged journalists described the censorship as the "rape of Southern Weekend," the Guardian reported. According to Forbes, supporters of the paper joined the strike, demonstrating along with journalists outside Southern Weekend's headquarters in Guangzhou, the capital of southern Guangdong province.
Chinese internet users have reportedly circulated open letters online calling for Guangdong's propaganda chief, Tuo Zhen, to step down. Southern Weekend staff have also claimed that more than 1,000 of the paper's articles have been censored since he took up his post a year ago.
For now, police have allowed the demonstration to continue, an indication that the Guangdong government may be treading carefully to contain rising anger. The way that the government deals with the incident is seen as a test for Chinese officials, most of whom were installed only two months ago, according to the BBC's analysis.