Openness in China About Memoir Proves Short-Lived

While authorities initially permitted access to reports about the new memoir of purged Party leader Zhao Ziyang, they have now clamped down. The New York Times reports on steps taken to quiet Bao Tong, Zhao’s senior aide, who was involved with the recording and release of the memoirs:

When the memoir became public last week, Mr. Bao, the most senior Communist Party official imprisoned after the crackdown, quickly claimed responsibility. In a string of interviews with the foreign press that security officials did not initially seek to prevent, he said he had collaborated with other liberal party elders to slip the cassette recordings out of the country for publication.

“In the past, the minute these things appear, the party would say, ‘This is turmoil; we must crack down,’ ” he said in one telephone conversation early this week. “But if the party can maintain this current calm, then maybe it can eventually be saved.”

By Friday, though, the government’s restraint appeared to be wearing thin.

Highlights of Mr. Zhao’s memoir and audio clips of his original dictation, which were accessible for days within the mainland on the Web sites of American newspapers, including The New York Times, now appear to be blocked.

And Mr. Bao’s run of unfettered press availability ended. Mr. Bao said by telephone late Friday that he had just been informed he could no longer accept interviews “starting right now.”

May 24, 2009 7:28 AM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics