At 86, a Liberal-Minded Party Elder Is Still Jousting With China’s Censors

The New York Times profiles , the former high-ranking official who helped record ’s memoirs that were released in book form earlier this year:

When a former aide of Mr. Zhao’s, Du Daozheng, disclosed in May that he had helped secretly record Mr. Zhao’s memoir for posthumous publication, Mr. Du’s daughter refused to let him walk outside alone for fear of possible repercussions.

She need not have worried. On June 25, a top official in charge of propaganda showed up at Mr. Du’s western Beijing apartment with a reassuring message from Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Communist Party and the government. Mr. Du said he was told that, as an old friend of Mr. Zhao’s, “Zhongnanhai and party central can understand why you did this.”

Mr. Du used to be among those who delivered such judgments. Until he was ousted in 1989 with Mr. Zhao, he served as head of the government’s press and publications administration, an agency that helps enforce censors’ orders.

Now he spends his days jousting with such officials, trying to foist unmentionable topics like Mr. Zhao’s career into the public domain. Helping with Mr. Zhao’s memoir — a rare look at the party’s inner conflicts that was published this May outside China — was a particularly daring thrust.

Read excerpts
of the transcript of Du’s interview.

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