Friday, March 10, 2006

Chinese Communist Party members take censors to task

Well, a friend of mine asked me to render my opinion on this a couple weeks ago, and I suppose late is better than never. (Sorry about the lack of updates; this is directly due to my current lack of reliable Internet.)

New York Times (registration required to view)

Several members of China's Communist Party, including a former propaganda chief and a former secretary to Mao, have circulated a joint letter condemning the recent forced shutdown of the popular Chinese newspaper Freezing Point by the party's Propaganda Department. (Yes, the government agency is actually called that.) The letter did not reference the recent censorship of Google China or Beijing's other online censorship campaigns.

This is significant not because of the protest itself (Chinese editors and reformists have been protesting censorship for years, sometimes at the cost of their own freedom), but because it is in fact senior Party men who are doing the protesting. This could indicate that the winds are changing in China; if Party officials are attempting to curry favor with the reform movements, then it could mean that they feel threatened by them, which is wildly significant. If my (admittedly cynical) interpretation is correct, and they're doing this out of what they perceive as their self-interest rather than a sudden libertarian change of heart, then it means that Communist control is seriously weakening in China to the point where several of the Party's core members feel that their chances are better opposing the Party than standing silent.

Let's all hope so.

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