Crackdown on free expression intensifies

Three articles about freedom of expression (or the lack thereof) in China:

The South China Morning Post reports that the government has intensified a crackdown on the liberal media in Guangdong by firing Xiao Weibin, the editor-in-chief of Tong Zhou Gong Jin magazine. According to the article, “In August, the magazine published an interview with former Guangdong party boss Ren Zhongyi , an adviser to the publication, who advocated bolder political reforms and experiments with western-style separation of powers. In the interview, Mr Ren, 91, said China’s political reforms had lagged behind its economic achievements because leaders feared changes would bring disorder. He also criticised the government for banning books, closing newspapers and censoring the internet. ” The SCMP story also notes that former Southern Metropolis News editor Cheng Yizhong, who was released in August after five months in detention, will not be rehabilitated as he was recently expelled from the Communist Party.

The SCMP also reported that journalists have been banned from covering the mining disaster in Henan Province, which has already claimed 82 lives: “Officials had erected a tight security perimeter about 1km from the site, refusing to allow journalists or relatives to enter, while little information had been forthcoming about the latest rescue efforts, China News Service reported yesterday. It said authorities took away relatives as soon as they saw them speak to journalists.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on lawyer and former student activist Pu Zhiqiang, who has taken up the cause of freedom of speech by defending publications and journalists sued for libel. He successfully defended the magazine China Reform after it was sued for libel by a real estate company, a landmark case since Chinese courts rarely rule in support of journalists. The full story is here.


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