ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, February 17, 2006

China: Freedom of the Press?

Like my co-conspirator, I too am blogging from an undisclosed, large airport in the Northeast... and suffering from jet lag during my 5 hour layover here. This was a brutal trip and I have to say that it's difficult staying on top of things from across the pond. It's difficult since there are only a few, slanted stories about what's happening in the US. I just wish my hotel had wifi or lan connections in the rooms rather than simply offering wifi in their lobby(at $25 per day, not including 17% in taxes).

Could it be that the ChiComs will slowly move towards political freedom as well as economic freedom? This story from the Scotsman prompted this post (visit BugMeNot for login info):

Banned Chinese paper reprieved
BENJAMIN ROBERTSON IN BEIJING

THE Chinese Communist Party is to revive a provocative publication it closed down less than a month ago - minus its two outspoken editors.

The revival of Freezing Point, published inside the influential China Youth Daily, comes after this week's publication of a letter signed by 13 senior Communist Party members, including a former secretary of Mao Zedong, condemning the decision to close the weekly supplement and calling on the government to "demolish every method of news censorship".

Revealing deep divisions within the ruling Communist Party over the media's role in China, yesterday's decision is believed to be unprecedented and may signal a new phase in media openness.

The move to reopen Freezing Point, originally closed by the powerful propaganda department, would have been made under pressure from the senior leadership.

The move could also be aimed at China's critics in the United States Congress, who this week held hearings to discuss China's monitoring of the internet.

It is not yet clear, however, whether the new issue, set to be launched in March, will maintain its hard-hitting, investigative format.

Previously known for their willingness to tackle controversial topics, including rural poverty and AIDS patients, the founding editor, Li Datong, and his deputy, Lu Yuegang, are being moved to the newspaper's research department. Saying that "this exterminates the soul of Freezing Point, leaving an empty shell", Mr Li told The Scotsman that he would fight the move.

Suspended in late January after printing an essay by Professor Yuan Weishi criticising nationalistic history textbooks, Freezing Point was one of several publications to be censured in the past three months. Since the end of last year, the Beijing News, Southern Metropolitan Daily and the Public Welfare Times have all lost editors.

The next issue of Freezing Point will run a rebuttal of the textbook essay.

Oh, nevermind... they're just kicking out the two hard-hitting editorialists and are going to include an essay that is counter to the op-ed that was the reason for the paper being shut down in the first place.

So, where is the media openness here? While it's great that they're re-opening the paper, it's a shame that the ChiCom government will have greater influence in the new venture.

As I've commented in the past, this issue will come to the fore in the near future and when it does, I don't expect that the result will be pretty. That's why I'm long on India (and the Anglosphere in general).

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler