Veteran pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao is set to close 21 mainland news bureaus and sack close to 100 staff pending a merger with Hong Kong’s other major pro-Beijing daily Wen Wei Po, according to documents leaked online.

On Monday, a Beijing-based media worker posted a notice allegedly from the newspaper on China’s Weibo microblogging platform. Distributed to staff the preceding Friday, the document stated that labour contracts at Ta Kung Pao’s Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai—alongside 17 others—are to be terminated with immediate effect.

Ta Kung Pao notice
Ta Kung Pao notice.

According to an anonymous inside source cited by Apple Daily, most lay-offs hitherto announced have targeted the business rather than editorial departments of the paper. The restructuring is expected to reach completion within the month.

Apple Daily reports that Wen Wei Pao is also undertaking major staff cuts at its news bureaus in mainland China.

Ta Kung Pao newspaper
Ta Kung Pao newspaper from 1948.

Ta Kung Pao was founded in Tianjin in 1902. Founder Ying Lianzhi envisioned a newspaper that could “help China become a modern and democratic nation” by adhering to strict principles of political impartiality and commercial independence.

The current form of the newspaper, established after the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War, is owned by the Chinese state and controlled by the Liaison Office of the Central Government.

Widely regarded as a mouthpiece for Beijing, Ta Kung Pao’s circulation newspaper is estimated to be 400,000 copies (in print), of which 160,000 copies are distributed in Hong Kong, 210,000 in Mainland China, and 30,000 around the rest of the world.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others