A Hong Kong news magazine known for its in-depth coverage of Chinese politics has been dropped by its two mainland Chinese importers in what a sister publication said Friday was a ban.
Staffers at China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corp. and China International Book Trading Corp. said Friday in phone interviews that they will stop importing Hong Kong-based Chinese-language weekly Yazhou Zhoukan starting next year.
The staffers, who refused to give their names, said they didn't know why the magazine was dropped.
Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao Daily News, which is part of the same media company as Yazhou Zhoukan, said Friday that the move means the magazine will effectively be banned from accepting subscriptions in China.
Yazhou Zhoukan's circulation in China is already limited to foreign residents and foreign companies, Ming Pao said. It is banned from newsstands, the newspaper said.
The two companies dropping the magazine are government-designated importers of foreign newspapers and magazines, Ming Pao said.
Officials at Yazhou Zhoukan didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.
China's General Administration of Press and Publication didn't immediately respond to a fax seeking comment.
Yazhou Zhoukan is a Chinese-language weekly similar to Time or Newsweek that covers Asian current events. It is known in particular for its coverage of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997, but the territory maintains separate political and economic systems and its press corps enjoys a greater level of freedom than mainland counterparts.
Taboo subjects like the Chinese military's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square are freely discussed in Hong Kong publications.
However, on the Chinese mainland, the government's grip on the domestic media remains tight, dictating what can be reported and limiting any open discussion about democracy, religious freedom or material considered politically subversive.
China relaxed restrictions on foreign journalists at the beginning of the year, ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics, exempting reporters from having to apply for permission to travel and conduct interviews.
Despite the new rules, foreign journalists and monitoring groups complain that harassment and occasional detentions continue.