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China dissolves Rolling Stone partnership

Official sites ‘problem with the formalities’ as reason for end of deal
/ Source: The Associated Press

Just weeks after its launch, the Chinese-language edition of Rolling Stone magazine faces an uncertain future after authorities said they had dissolved its publishing agreement with a local partner.

The reason for the dissolution wasn't clear, with a Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau official merely saying there was a "problem with the formalities."

However, the official, who wouldn't give her name or title, denied the magazine had been ordered to stop publishing.

"The term stopped the publication is incorrect," she said. "What we stopped was the publishing cooperation between Rolling Stone and Audiovisual World" — the magazine's local partner. She said Audiovisual World still had permission to publish the magazine.

Foreign magazines must take on a local partner in order to obtain a Chinese publishing license, a process that can take months or even years.

The Shanghai official appeared to imply that Audiovisual World could continue to publish some form of Rolling Stone.

China has opened considerably to Western pop culture and magazines, with Chinese versions of titles ranging from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic.

A woman who answered the phone at Audiovisual World's offices wouldn't comment, saying only: "If that's what they said is happening, then that is what's happening."

Rolling Stone's editor in chief, Hao Fang, declined to comment, but said he still plans to bring out next month's issue.

"What I can tell you is that we're still working as usual. I don't what to challenge the government department," Hao told The Associated Press.

It wasn't clear whether the magazine had a problem with its paperwork or was being targeted for its content.

Hao has said he planned to steer clear of the political content the U.S. edition frequently dealt with and would focus on music and popular culture.

March's inaugural edition featured Chinese rock pioneer Cui Jian on the cover, along with articles on U2 frontman Bono, Taiwanese hip-hop star Jay Chou and blogging.

The only article to deal with politics was one on the influence of rock music on ending the Cold War _ a subject still considered sensitive by China's communist rulers.

The mainland Chinese version is the 11th international edition of Rolling Stone, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next year. The Chinese version's debut edition quickly sold out its print run of 120,000 _ four times the initial projected circulation.