The front cover of Party magazine [Global Times]
Controversial blogger Han Han may have moved one step closer to becoming a full-time racecar driver again after staff at his magazine, Party, were let go Sunday, allowing him more time on the track.
Ma Yimu, the executive editor in chief of the magazine, announced the dismissal Monday on his microblog, saying, "I cannot believe it. I am confident we'll be back," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Han's assistant then confirmed the news with a text message to Xinhua but he could not be reached Monday.
The magazine bore an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) instead of an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), meaning it was regarded as technically being a book, and therefore needed to undergo government inspection before every new issue was published.
China's General Administration of Press and Publication did not respond to a Global Times inquiry on the issue.
Han, 28, is one of the most popular Internet figures in China. His cheeky personal style, which flows throughout his books and blogs, as well as in real life, has helped him accumulate more than 306 million hits on his blog, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
He is a professional racecar driver and author, best known for tackling sensitive issues in China without getting into serious trouble with the authorities. His magazine, whose Chinese name means "a chorus of solos," was first printed July 6, 15 months after Han started planning for the monthly publication.
Han's assistant told Xinhua that the maiden issue of the magazine sold nearly 1.5 million copies. According to ifeng.com, about 100,000 copies were sold on the magazine's debut, with 400,000 more story sold the day after.
The 120-page Chinese-language magazine, priced at 16 yuan ($2.41), included part of Han's new novel, 1988 - I Want to Talk to the World, as well as essays, poems and opinion pieces from Hong Kong movie director Pang Ho Cheung, folk musician Zhou Yunpeng and blogger Luo Yonghao, Xinhua reported.
Despite its successful debut, the maiden issue was the magazine's only publication.
Citing unnamed sources, the Southern Metropolis Weekly (SMW) reported in July that the maiden copy dropped about 70 percent of Han's originally planned content in order to be approved by the publication watchdog.