Falun Gong-linked paper facing closure

The Standard/May 12, 2005
By Michael Ng

The Epoch Times, a newspaper linked to the Falun Gong that employs the group's followers, said it might cease publication this weekend after its printer said it will no longer print the paper.

The newspaper's chief editor, Amy Chu, told The Standard Wednesday that the printer, whom she did not name, had served notice in March that it will stop printing copies from Saturday.

Chu said the printer, which had signed a one-year agreement extension with the newspaper in January, said it feared it might affect other business if it continued providing printing service for The Epoch Times.

"It is self-censorship,'' said Chu.

"I believe the central government [has played a part] in leading the printer to make such a decision.''

It is the second time the paper has faced such a crisis. Another printer also broke a contract with The Epoch Times in late 2003, said Chu.

"If we still cannot find a new publisher before Friday, we have no alternative but to suspend our publication and the operation of our Web site,'' she said.

According to an Agence France-Presse report, The Epoch Times has contacted a dozen other printing firms and all have refused to print it, the paper's spokesman Tony Chan said.

The newspaper publishes five days a week with a circulation of 50,000 in Hong Kong. Chan said he believed the printers came under political pressure after a series of editorials called the ``Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party'' were published and criticized the mainland. ``They have previously told us that they are scared,'' he said, and had signalled their intentions to stop working with the newspaper. Chan declined to elaborate further or identify the company.

"I feel they are under pressure,'' he was quoted in the AFP report.

Chan said the newspaper strives to publish uncensored coverage about the mainland but he fears political pressure will stifle press freedom in Hong Kong.

"What we are doing is to safeguard the freedom of expression,'' he said.

Beginning as a Chinese-language newspaper, The Epoch Times, based in New York, was founded in 2000 and now publishes in 28 countries including the United States and Australia.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.