Protesters gathered outside the Guangzhou offices of Southern Weekend, a reform-oriented newspaper, holding flowers and chanting, while some of the publication's editorial staff went on strike, the Financial Times reported.
It was the first case of open rebellion against media censorship in seven years, the British newspaper said. In January 2006, journalists and others criticized the shuttering of the magazine Bing Dian by the ruling Communist Party.
The turmoil at the Southern Weekend began last week when journalists accused the propaganda chief of Guangdong province, Tuo Zhen, of censoring the publication's New Year's letter to its readers, The New York Times reported.
"The standoff arose after the journalists blamed Tuo for turning the editorial, calling for political reform, into a tribute to one-party rule the day before publication. Hundreds of intellectuals, journalists and Internet users have since signed an online petition condemning the lack of press freedom and censorship," the South China Morning Post, based in Hong Kong, reported.
Several reporters and editors said they would not work until the issue was resolved and the newspaper's Beijing office was empty Monday, the Financial Times said.
Pictures posted and re-sent on Twitter from Guangzhou showed several hundred protesters outside the newspaper's headquarters. The Communist Party issued a ban on reporting, discussing and tweeting on the case, but some people -- including celebrities Li Bingbang and Yao Chen -- posted messages of support, the New York Times reported.