The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s main English-language newspaper, has closed down its Chinese-language website.
A terse notice appeared on the site, nanzao.com, on Friday afternoon, informing users that it has stopped operating and thanking them for their support, business news website Quartz reports.
There was not much explanation on why the site was being shuttered, although the notice cites the need to “integrate resources”.
SCMP employees said they had not been told about the decision to close the site.
Quartz said one of the last articles to appear on the Chinese site was the controversial interview with Zhao Wei (趙威), a legal assistant identified with human rights defender Li Heping (李和平).
Both were arrested by Chinese authorities last year.
The interview, which carried no byline, was first published on Nanzao in July before being translated for the English site.
It raised much controversy because Zhao, who had spent nearly a year in secret detention, was until then still held incommunicado, and her own lawyer and husband had been unable to contact her.
In the interview, Zhao said she regretted her activism.
Observers saw the interview as part of a growing trend of forced and often televised confessions of Chinese dissidents, Quartz said.
Its publication came amid fears of Beijing’s growing influence over the SCMP after the newspaper was acquired by Alibaba founder Jack Ma in a deal announced last December.
In 2013, Ma was reportedly furious at the SCMP’s Chinese-language website after it ran an interview with him, in which he said that the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square was “the most correct decision”, Quartz said.
A spokesperson said the four staffers working on Nanzao would be reassigned to jobs elsewhere in the company, and that the “closure … enables us to align resources towards further growth”, the report said.
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