January 2 — A new local regulation designed to combat official corruption and abuse of duty took effect in Henan’s capital city of Zhengzhou, making specific mention of watchdog journalism, or “supervision by public opinion” (舆论监督), as a key form of monitoring. The ordinance designates a range of areas — a “region of priority supervision” — for monitoring of government behavior by prosecutors and the press. These include, among others, official expenditures (treating of guests, etc), and the levying of educational fees.
January 5 — A number of media reports in China discussed the growing popularity of new “ID generation” software among Chinese Internet users, suggesting users might be finding ways around the proposed real-name registration system even before it has been implemented.
January 5 — Southern Metropolis Daily, a commercial spinoff of Guangdong’s official Nanfang Daily, called for Chinese leaders to strike a pact with domestic media similar to that it announced recently with foreign media, which have been promised greater access in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games. In a page 2 editorial, the newspaper sought to dovetail the notion of a freer domestic press with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s social policy of the “harmonious society”, saying that if “this [concept of] ‘constructive and cooperative partnership’ were extended the government’s relationship with domestic media, this would … allow the media to take a more active and professional role in the building of a harmonious society”.
January 7 — Chinese media continued to reflect back on the jailing of journalist Gao Qinrong, who was released recently after eight years in prison. [Coverage from ESWN].