As protestors gathered outside the Guangzhou offices of Southern Weekly on Monday in support of the newspaper’s editorial staff, race car driver and popular blogger Han Han lamented the uphill battle for free expression faced by journalists and other members of China’s cultural and media industries. From his blog post for the South China Morning Post:
You can have your so-called “freedoms,” but only because they have the freedom to punish you afterwards. Be it literature, news, films or television, you spend tonnes of energy trying to win their approval. Even though you want some clear rules to go by, they never tell you what they are – so everybody assumes they’re breaking the rules somehow. The only way for you to completely abide by their rules is to become like them. We end up censoring ourselves, always apprehensive, always afraid, always guessing. They grab you by your collar, clamp you by the neck, yet at the same time encourage you to run faster, sing better, and win them more honour.
We hardly have any world-class writers, directors, newspapers, magazines or films. Of course, you can blame that on the incompetence of the professionals. You could also point to Iran and say, hey, their censorship is much stricter than ours, yet they still produce world-famous works of art. You can question why we have to bend ourselves to other people’s standards. Maybe I am indeed not talented enough, but still I don’t appreciate other people censoring me, revising me, or tying me down. So, my solidarity statement today, is not just for my favourite newspaper or those journalists I respect. It is also for those in worse conditions, those media outlets and journalists who come to much more violent and miserable ends. It is also for ourselves.
Southern Weekend has
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