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November 10, 2009

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Caijing founder resigns in tiff with publisher

THE founder and editor-in-chief of Caijing resigned yesterday amid friction with her publisher, colleagues and the magazine said.

Hu Shuli's departure is a major blow to Caijing, an 11-year-old financial news magazine that under her guidance tackled tough subjects such as corruption, pollution and public health scares.

Two Caijing employees said that Hu left because of disagreements with Caijing's publisher, Hong Kong-listed SEEC Media Group, over editorial and financial control. One said dozens of the magazine's 180-strong editorial staff resigned yesterday in a show of support for Hu.

Managing Editor Wang Shuo announced on Twitter that he had resigned but did not give a reason.

A woman who answered the phone at SEEC's Hong Kong office and would give only her surname, Chan, said the company had no comment and referred calls to a Beijing office, where the phone rang unanswered.

Caijing spokeswoman Heidi Zhang told The Associated Press that Hu has no immediate plans to start a new magazine or other publication. Hu instead will likely take up an academic post in the communications department of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

The magazine was not closing down and Hu would stay on for about a month to help with the transition, Zhang said.

SEEC has other magazines in its portfolio, but Caijing is its flagship publication.

Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of Danwei, a Website that covers Chinese media issues, called Hu's resignation "a big loss for SEEC."

"No one will take Caijing seriously now," he said. "Hu Shuli is almost half the brand, if not more."

Rumors of problems at Caijing have been swirling for months. The magazine's general manager and 60 to 70 employees from the business department resigned last month.

The uncertainty surrounding Caijing has raised questions about the future of a partnership between the magazine and Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li that is expected to launch an English-language financial news service focused on China next year.

Cai Business Indepth Ltd, the Hong Kong-based company set up to run the service, said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday that it was "monitoring developments" at Caijing.

"Regardless of the changes announced at Caijing, we have understandings in place which ensure that we will continue to have exclusive content from China's premier financial news editors and journalists," the company said, without providing details.


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