A Bold new voice – Lu Yuegang’s extraordinary open letter to authorities

Just after the last blogpost: Free market generates (some) media freedom, I read Mr. Lu Yuegang’s open letter at Zhang Weiguo’s New Century Net website. is the deputy director of the news center in China Youth Daily, and the paper’s principal reporter. Mr. Lu also served as chairman of the China Association for the Study of Nonfiction and has won several prizes for his reportage. In my view, this document is the boldest voice to come from Chinese journalists and could shake up the media reform and control landscape in China.

The letter is very long (13,000 words) but I quickly translated a few paragraphs here. The letter has gone all over on Chinese Internet, and I hope more people can help to translate the entire document.

With extraordinary courage, Mr. Lu has challenged Zhao Yong, the secretary of the standing committee of the Communist Youth League, who has direct political authority over the China Youth Daily. The open letter was directly responding to Zhao’s speech at a meeting with the middle level cadres of China Youth Daily on May 24, 2004. At the meeting, Zhao tried to exert new control measures over the paper, which is one of China’s oldest and most progressive newspapers. In response, Lu wrote:

“Your Excellency said that in order to guarantee the permanent position of power of CCP, we must depend on two weapons: guns and pens. We understand this. …… But Your Excellency has forgotten, that is the political philosophy of a revolutionary party …the logic behind this philosophy is not only to control the pen but to have this control backed by the gun…Whoever wants to question or to resist will be shown a gun. This resulted in decades of darkness, in which the lies repeated 1000 times became the truth. Since 1949, there were non-stop political movements, and for more than 20 years people struggled to make a living. One of the main lessons of this is that the CCP has been operating as a revolutionary party… thereby causing the disaster of the Great Leap Forward (1959-1962) in which at least 27 million died, the ten years of devastation (the Cultural Revolution), and the tragedy of June 4th… In the 21st century, the ruling party’s ‘two weapons theory,’ can almost be interpreted as: in the midst of humanity’s unstoppable trend toward democracy, the CCP wants to keep its power by controlling public opinion and by violence….(but) the need for a transition from a revolutionary party to a ruling party has long ago been raised by visionary people outside and inside the party, including from within the Hu-Wen leadership. Political reform is an urgent issue, not only concerning the fate of the CCP but also the prosperity and happiness of the Chinese people… In the era of the Internet and globalization… we regrettably have to tell Your Excellency that your ‘theory of two weapons’ is a theory of idiots .”

(An interesting background: as one of the noticeable media reform moves, China Youth Daily just recently received 100 million yuan investment from one of China’s leading high tech companies Beida Jade Bird Group and published its first new edition on June 1, 2004. Mr. Lu’s open letter was published on the Internet on June 13, 2004. )

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