- - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

LONDON — Top business executives warned Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday that he could damage Britain’s economy by inadvertently taking the country out of the European Union.

In a letter published in The Financial Times, Virgin Group Ltd.’s Richard Branson, London Stock Exchange head Chris Gibson-Smith, WPP PLC chief executive Martin Sorrell and seven other business leaders challenged Mr. Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s membership terms with the 27-country EU and put the matter to a referendum.

The executives warn that such a plan could fail, pushing the U.K. out of the EU and hurting businesses.

EU membership offers access to the common European market, facilitating trade, and a role in negotiating the future of the continent’s financial policies. Britain also has benefited from EU funds to build infrastructure such as broadband networks.

Though the business leaders urged EU reform, they argued “We must be very careful not to call for a wholesale renegotiation of our EU membership, which would almost certainly be rejected.”

CHINA

Managers, reporters defuse censorship spat

GUANGZHOU — Communist Party-backed management and rebellious staff at an influential weekly newspaper stepped back Wednesday from a contentious standoff over censorship that spilled over to the wider public and turned into an unexpected test of the new Chinese leadership’s tolerance for political reform.

Hopes among supporters of the Southern Weekly that the dispute would strike a blow against censorship appeared to fizzle with a tentative resolution.

Under an agreement reached Tuesday, editors and reporters at the newspaper will not be punished for protesting and stopping work in anger over a propaganda official’s heavy-handed rewriting of a New Year’s editorial last week, according to two members of the editorial staff.

One editor said propaganda officials will no longer directly censor content prior to publication, though other long-standing controls remain in place.

“If that’s the case, we’ve got a small victory for the media,” said David Bandurksi, a specialist on Chinese media at Hong Kong University. The compromise, he said, might see censors back off the “really ham-fisted approach” they had taken in recent months.

PAKISTAN

Truckers who supply NATO troops go on strike

PESHAWAR — Truckers who carry supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan went on strike in northwest Pakistan to protest low pay, inadequate security and corrupt officials who demand bribes from the truckers, officials said.

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