Chinese party elders denounce media censorship

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A group of former senior Communist Party officials in China have denounced the recent closure of Freezing Point (Bing Dian), an investigative newspaper, along with the state of government censorship in that country. The group includes Li Rui, a former aid to Chairman Mao Zedong, Hu Jiwei, a former newspaper editor, and Zhu Houze, an ex-propaganda chief.

In an open letter addressed to the current government, the group said that strict censorship may "sow the seeds of disaster" for China's political transition.

In the letter, signed on February 2 but released on Tuesday, the group called current censorship methods overly restrictive and unnecessary for the modern China: "History has shown that only a totalitarian system needs news censorship, out of the delusion that it can keep the people locked in ignorance."

Freezing Point was a supplement of the China Youth Daily and was allegedly shut down due to the publication on January 11 of an article by Zhongshan University professor Yuan Weishi regarding the way history is currently taught in China, although the papers editor, Li Datong, says that it has experienced difficulties with the government on several occasions in the past. Mr. Yuan's article was critical of Chinese textbooks, which never admit the culpability of the government and instead shift the blame to other nations.

No response from the government has yet been issued.