An editor at mainland paper Southern Metropolis Daily has posted a “letter of resignation” on social media saying that he would be quitting on April 1 – meaning April Fool’s Day – because “he could not bear the party’s surname”.

The post, now deleted by Weibo, was published on Monday by Yu Shaolei, who has worked at the paper since 2000 and is the editor-in-chief of the paper’s culture section. It read, “This spring, let’s end things once and for all; my knees can’t take it anymore, having been in the same position for so long, and I want to see if I can have a change. To the person in charge of monitoring my Weibo and letting his superiors know what to delete, you can now let out a sigh of relief.

Yu Shaolei and his post on Weibo.

“Sorry for making you nervous all these years, and I hope there will be a new direction with your career,” it continued. “Please also tell all of the friends who care about me, I won’t be seeing you anymore, Southern Metropolis Daily.”

The post referenced comments made by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who in February said that “all news media run by the party and the government bear the surname of ‘party’”. Xi’s remarks, as well as his visits to the headquarters of three state media outlets in Beijing, have been seen as a call for stricter control over the media.

Southern Metropolis Daily was the centre of another controversy last month, when its editor was fired after Xi’s comments were juxtaposed with an image of a sea burial on the front page of the Shenzhen’s edition of the paper. The headlines were arranged in such a way that the words read, “media having Party as their surnames will have their souls returned to the sea”.

Earlier this month, two articles in the Chinese business magazine Caixin, criticising censorship by the mainland authorities, were removed from the internet one after another. Two weeks ago, mainland Chinese journalist Jia Jia was taken away by authorities at Beijing airport, although he has since been released. Jia and others were reportedly detained over an open letter addressed to Xi published on Wujie News’ website, which asked Xi to resign “for the future of the country and the people”.

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Karen Cheung

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.