Following Hubei Governor Li Hongzhong’s outburst at a reporter questioning him at the NPC meetings, hundreds of prominent Chinese journalists, scholars and activists have penned an open letter protesting his actions and calling for an investigation and a public apology. China Media Project has translated the letter:
A string of sensational events concerning the people’s livelihood have occurred in Hubei under Li Hongzhong’s leadership. In the Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇) case, awful crimes were perpetrated by township officials. Local leaders turned their special privileges to deception, leveling charges of murder against the victim in the case. They drove reporters away, beat them, put them under surveillance, trampling on rule of law to cover up their own official misdeeds. The Shishou Incident (石首事件) erupted into street riots. Li Hongzhong shirked responsibility in the early stages, and afterwards strove to clear away the damage, but bitterness still has yet to subside . . .
The “two meetings” are a time when the public inquires into affairs of the nation. As a delegate to the National People’s Congress, Li Hongzhong should attend to the strengths and shortcomings of the ruling party and have regard for the public good. Li Hongzhong’s words depart from civilized political conduct and flirt with personal arrogance. The robbing [of the reporter’s recording device] victimized not only the reporter herself. The incident was a setback for the rights of the media, for the public’s right to know, for China’s national image, and it brought shame to the hall [where delegates were assembled]. Li’s actions undermined the faith of the public, damaged the dignity of the NPC, and abused the image of the nation, the party and the people.
China’s constitution extends to the media and to the people the right to inquire into political affairs, and protest is justified when power flagrantly tramples on those rights. Action is far better than sitting back and posturing. Elder journalists such as Zhou Ruijin (周瑞金) have spoken out, and Zhong Peizhang (钟沛璋), former director of the News Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department, has shouted out [in protest] from his sick bed.