Press freedom is gaining momentum on mainland, says outspoken academic – Kristine Kwok

The South China Morning Post reports on a talk by mainland philosophy professor Yuan Weishi, whose essay about Chinese history was cited by the government in their decision to close down Freezing Point Weekly:

Speaking avidly about how China should learn from mistakes in history — a balanced account not distorted by the authorities — Sun Yat-sen University professor Yuan Weishi may sound like an idealist.

But the controversial philosophy professor also knows how to stay clear of potholes on the path to free speech on the mainland.

“We better not discuss this question, because this is a taboo … I would like to maintain my right of speech on the mainland … Some people criticise the Communist Party in overseas publications. That’s much easier [than what I’m doing], but I would rather publish essays on the mainland,” Professor Yuan said when asked a sensitive question yesterday while in Hong Kong to promote a new book on Sun Yat-sen.

…Known for his liberal-minded, critical analysis of the history of modern China, Professor Yuan’s essays have been widely circulated around the nation. And because of remarks that often clash or deviate from the official interpretation, his articles often attract criticism.

In January, Professor Yuan was propelled into the international spotlight after one of his essays triggered the temporary closure of an influential China Youth Daily supplement, Bingdian Weekly.

Li Erliang , the newspaper’s chief editor was sacked recently. It was reported that his dismissal was related to the Bingdian incident. [Full text]

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