What Can a Clever News Censor Change? – Liang Jing

Liang Jing (梁京) wrote the following commentary (see original Chinese version here). Many thanks to David Kelly of the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore for providing the translation to CDT:

What can a clever news censor change?
The Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao leadership recently replaced Long Xinmin, the Director of the General Office for Press and Publications, who was transferred to a less responsible position. As successor to what is in fact the important position of top news censor, Hu Jintao selected Liu Binjie of the Central Youth League. This personnel change has led to some speculation at home and abroad. Some claim the political significance of the affair should not be exaggerated”Long Xinmin’s character placed his fate in the hand of others, he had lacked punch, and was presumably replaced for personal reasons. Others argue that the possibility of new people and a new deal lying behind this move by Hu and Wen cannot be ruled out. Last week, Shu Xiao revealed in a commentary in Nanfang Zhoumo that Liu Binjie had stated in his inaugural speech that he would “use more wisdom and less power.” [1] Such a declaration beyond the rhetorical needs of self-justification was rather surprising. As well as showing the new man may have high-level support in the background, it also shows we are dealing with a news censor who is clearly more intelligent than his predecessors.
In China’s situation today, what can an intelligent news censor change?

This is the question I asked myself when I read Liu Binjie’s declaration. Can he bring any substantive changes to bear? Thinking it over, I believe an intelligent news censor can still make a difference today.
The environment in which China’s autocratic regime finds itself today has a significant difference with the authoritarian past”the

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