Former Chinese officials demand media freedom

A group of retired Communist Party officials and intellectuals have issued an unusually blunt demand for total press freedom in China, stating that the current regime of censorship and government control of the press violates China’s constitution and debases the government’s claim to represent its citizens.

The document’s 23 signers, including academics and former executives of China’s state-controlled media, have no public influence on the nation’s ruling coalition of Communist leaders. Some of them have issued other public demands for reform in past years, to no effect…

Their letter’s unvarnished language was notable for including an undisguised attack on the legality of censorship by the party’s Central Propaganda Department, which ultimately controls much of what is published, broadcast or posted on the Internet here…

The writers’ “core demand,” they stated, was that China’s ineffectual legislature, the National People’s Congress, dismantle censorship procedures “in favor of a system of legal responsibility” for items that are freely published…

The letter also refers to recent statements by Premier Wen, including an interview with the CNN, which suggest that the nation’s economic progress may be squandered unless the political system is further reformed. At one point, the letter notes that even those comments have been censored inside China, and that official reports on his remarks include only his statements on topics that do not involve reform.

“Of course, from our perspective the letter in a way is reacting to Premier Wen’s calls,” one signer, Jiang Ping, the former president of the China University of Political Science and Law, said in a telephone interview. “But whether the things we are calling for are consistent with what he has in mind, I don’t know.

“The reason I signed my name to this open letter is that it’s high time now we should have reform of the political system. The key element of this reform is freedom of speech, And I think now is the time to seek these reforms.”

Bravo! The course of commerce and civil liberties have been separated during the political struggle bringing China from the days of feudalism to a system dedicated to building a market-based economy responding to socialist ethics – the two course of those rivers must be joined.

It’s time for an Age of Reason in Chinese history. Of course, that’s a quality still essentially absent here in the United States; but, we get to discuss it openly.

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