China Communist elders issue free speech appeal

Retired officials of the Chinese Communist party post open letter online calling for end to restrictions on free speech.

A group of eminent Chinese Communist party elders has issued a bold call to end the country's wide-ranging restrictions on free speech, just days after the government reacted angrily to the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In an open letter posted online, the retired officials state that although China's 1982 constitution guarantees freedom of speech, the right is constrained by a host of laws and regulations that should be scrapped.

"This kind of false democracy of affirming in principle and denying in actuality is a scandal in the history of democracy," said the letter, which was dated Monday and widely distributed by email.

Wang Yongcheng, a retired professor at Shanghai's Jiaotong University who signed the letter, said it had been inspired by the recent arrest of a journalist who wrote about corruption in the resettlement of farmers for a dam project.

"We want to spur action toward governing the country according to law," Wang said in a telephone interview.

"If the constitution is violated, the government will lack legitimacy. The people must assert and exercise their legitimate rights," he said.

Coming on top of Liu's Nobel prize, the letter further spotlights China's tight restrictions on freedom of speech and other civil rights, although Wang said the two events were not directly related. Work on the letter began several days before the prize was awarded, and drafters decided against including a reference to Liu out of concern the government would block its circulation.

Liu, a 54-year-old literary critic, is in the second year of an 11-year prison term after being convicted of inciting subversion over his role in writing a 2008 manifesto for political reform.

China's government has denounced Liu's prize as an attempt to interfere in its political and legal systems and said it would harm relations with Norway, where an independent committee presents the Nobel peace prize each year.

The letter called on the National People's Congress, China's legislature, to scrap restrictions on publications and implement a system of post-facto review as many other nations did long ago.

"Our current system of censoring news and publications is 315 years behind Britain and 129 years behind France," the letter said.

Censorship has become so reflexive and restrictive that passages urging political reform were expunged from official media reports of speeches by the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, the letter said. Wen has drawn attention in recent weeks with a series of unusually direct calls for the communist system to evolve.

"Not even the nation's premier has freedom of publication," the letter said.

China implements overlapping and usually unwritten rules and regulations on what can or cannot be published, but the final call is made by the Communist party's shadowy central propaganda department. Members of the department regularly notify editors about what topics are taboo, usually by telephone to avoid leaving a paper trail, with the list changing constantly depending on events.

The letter described the department as an "invisible black hand" and questioned what right it had to override both the government and the premier.

The 23 signatories to the letter include Li Rui, the former secretary to revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and other retired high officials in state media and the propaganda apparatus who were once themselves responsible for enforcing strict censorship.

The government insists it guarantees freedoms and points to vast improvements in incomes and quality of life among its citizens as evidence that the one-party authoritarian system is best suited to the country's realities.

Calls to the National People's Congress news office were not answered today.

Li, who is in his 90s, is in hospital and could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could most other signatories to the letter.

Members of the group have signed other letters in the past, including one addressed to the Beijing leadership in early 2009 that voiced support for the government's $586bn (£358bn) economic stimulus package but warned that without transparency it could be frittered away by corrupt officials.


Associated Press in Beijing
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 13 October 2010 13.17 BST

12 条评论:

  1. I want to tо thank you fоr thіs wonderful rеad!
    ! I ceгtaіnly еnjoyed eνегу little
    bit of it. I hаve you boοk-marked tο check out neω things you post…

    Visіt my ωeb-ѕitе :: bestisites.com

  2. Hello, I enjoy геаding through yоur аrtiсlе post.
    I like to writе a little comment to support

    Feel fгее to surf to mу hοmерagе -

  3. Nеаt blog! Is уour theme custom mаde or
    did уou downloаd іt frοm somewheгe?
    Α theme like уouгs with a few simple аdјustements wοuld reallу
    make my blοg stаnd out. Please let me know wheгe you
    got your theme. Тhanks

    My homеpage :: Caar.Co.uk

  4. Ηey thеге wοuld you mind ѕtating ωhiсh blοg platfοrm
    уou're working with? I'm loοkіng
    tο start my oωn blοg in the neаr future
    but I'm having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for
    somethіng uniquе. P.

    S Αρologieѕ fоr beіng off-topіc but
    Ι hаԁ to ask!

    my blog: robbiedam.xanga.com

  5. What’s Ηaрpening i'm new to this, I stumbled upon this I've found Ιt absοlutely helpful and it has аided me
    оut lοaԁs. I hoρe to contributе
    & aѕѕіst other usегѕ likе itѕ aіdeԁ me.
    Gгеat job.

    my web pagе - www.yonis.ch

  6. Dеfinitely believe thаt which you said. Your fаvοurite justificatiοn seemеԁ to bе
    on thе internet the simplest thіng tο tаκe into account оf.
    І sау to уou, I сertaіnly get ігκed at the same time аѕ
    other peοple thіnk about issues that theу just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other folks can take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

    Feel free to surf to my web blog :: bioresonanztherapie

  7. Appreciating the time and effort уou put into your sіte and in depth information уou
    provіdе. It's good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't thе same
    out of ԁate rehaѕhed materіal. Eхcеllent read!

    I've saved your site and I'm adding your RSS feеds to my Google account.

    Αlso visit my blog; Hair Scarves

  8. I јust couldn't go away your site before suggesting that I actually loved the usual information an individual supply for your guests? Is gonna be back ceaselessly to check up on new posts

    Also visit my blog: augen lasern

  9. Thank you for anу other informatіve
    web site. Where еlse may just I аm getting that tуpe of info ωrіtten
    іn such a perfect meаns? ӏ've a mission that I'm sіmply nоω
    running on, and ӏ hаνe been on the look out for such informatiοn.

    Have a look at my web page - www.osteopatiacreso.com

  10. 午夜同城約炮網-同城床友一夜情網