China Free Speech Protests: Censorship of Local Paper Ignites Nationwide Debate

Protestors and Communist-party supporters clashed in Southern China on Tuesday over allegations that the government is interfering with the editorial voice of a local paper, Southern Weekly, that is known for aggressive reporting.

It is an early test for China's new leadership. What began as a relatively pointed disagreement has spiraled into a growing confrontation between the government and free-speech advocates in the country.

The original dispute was over an editorial the paper was set to publish on New Year's calling for reform ... that was turned into a tribute praising the Communist party by government censors.

The paper's editorial committe is currently negotiating with senior management, which includes represenatives from the provincial propaganda office, according to a Southern Weekly editor.