Media Ban on Charter Activists
China’s powerful Central Propaganda Department has ordered a crackdown on Chinese media workers who signed a document this month calling for sweeping political reforms, a management executive at a state-run media organization said.
The message was given orally by the department, which is charged by the ruling Communist Party with ensuring that China’s media toe the Party line, the executive said. It was aimed at anyone who had signed Charter 08, a document published online in early December, sparking a flurry of interrogations, police searches, and detentions.
“It wasn’t as if there was a written order issued by the Central Propaganda Department. Nowadays the Central Propaganda Department rarely issues written orders. Instructions are conveyed orally,” he said.
He said media outlets have been barred from interviewing anyone who signed the Charter and from carrying articles penned by signatories. Some journalists have received visits or phone calls warning them “not to go to extremes,” he added.
The Christian Science Monitor, meanwhile, reports that authorities are showing rare leniency to signatories of the Charter:
So far, only one signer, Liu Xiaobo, has been jailed. Does this mean the brave dissidents will soon get their wish?
Hardly. But the Communist Party’s hesitancy to crack down harshly on the scholars, lawyers, engineers, and others who issued the so-called “Charter 08″ document sends a subtle signal of hope.
The party could be afraid that it is losing a key conceptual debate with the people over the best way to rule China, especially at a time of rising revolts by workers and peasants during an economic slowdown.