Wednesday, October 13, 2010

China Censors Its Own Leader

At least when he talks about free speech.

It seems that Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has made a number of recent speeches, at home and abroad, in which he calls for greater political freedom in the country he leads. Few Chinese people know this, though, because Wen's remarks are routinely censored, just like everybody else's, by the time they hit the media. Got it? They censor their own head of state.

Seems that censorship in China isn't done by the government, per se, but by the Communist Party. And just to keep journalists on their toes, the rules for censorship change all the time -- and are never written down. Instead, you get an anonymous call explaining the new rules. No paper trail, no accountability. And no arguments.

Recently, a group of Chinese elder statesmen have signed and circulated an open letter, calling for the Party to relax its rules. These are heavy hitters, including Chairman Mao's former secretary, and a former editor of the Party newspaper. Here's a sample:
When our country was founded in 1949, our people cried out that they had been liberated, that they were now their own masters," the letter states. ... But even today, 61 years after the founding of our nation, after 30 years of opening and reform, we have not yet attained the freedom of speech and press to the degree enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong under colonial rule. ... Not only the average citizen, but even the most senior leaders of the Communist Party, have no freedom of speech.
Of course, very few people in China know about this letter. It's being censored. (Although, fortunately, the censors aren't geniuses).

But the rest of us know. So when the Nobel Prize goes to an imprisoned dissident, and China huffs and puffs that this will be bad for its relations with Norway, we respond pretty much the way we do when enraged Islamofascists burn down churches in response to the possible exercise of free speech halfway around the globe. I.e., with contempt.

1 comment:

Pastor Joelle said...

You want to hear some first hand stories of the horrors of China - Wild Swans - about three generations of women in China ..great read but hard to read. Wish they'd make a movie of it.