Media sources in China say the chief editor of an outspoken newspaper who interviewed visiting U.S. President Barack Obama last month has been demoted under pressure from state officials.
Xiang Xi was demoted in recent days from top editor to number two at the Southern Weekend newspaper, which is based in southern China's Guangdong province.
Reuters news agency quotes three employees of the paper as saying Xiang was placed under a new top editor following pressure from the ruling Chinese Communist Party propaganda department. Reuters says the newspaper sources requested anonymity.
Xiang conducted an exclusive interview with Mr. Obama during the U.S. president's first visit to China in November. The White House says it asked the paper to interview Mr. Obama, a request that China's foreign ministry approved.
But Reuters quotes media sources as saying the propaganda department was upset that a regional newspaper got the interview rather than a national state-run media outlet. Officials ordered Chinese media not to republish the Southern Weekend
interview. Southern Weekend's
Web site published Xiang's Obama interview in full, but the link to the interview was not prominently displayed.
Southern Weekend is one of China's most combative newspapers, popular for its investigative reporting of social problems and corruption.
During his China trip, Mr. Obama held a town hall forum in Shanghai during which he spoke about what he called the "universal rights" of political expression, religious freedom and free information. U.S. officials asked Chinese authorities to broadcast the forum nationwide, but China limited coverage of the event to local television in Shanghai.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and The Guardian.