05/25/2009, 00.00
CHINA

Media censorship and anti-liberal crackdown as June 4th Anniversary approaches

As the Tiananmen anniversary approaches media in Guangdong are ordered not to publish bad news, told to follow official, not foreign media. Liberal magazine website is suspended. Well-known Charter 08 is dismissed.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese authorities are tightening their control over liberal media, suspending an online magazine and ensuring that “bad news” are not published. Liu Junning, who signed Charter 08, is dismissed from a prestigious post. For experts all this is a sign that the government is trying to increase its hold over intellectuals and the media ahead of the 4 June anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The online version of the monthly magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu-yhcqw.com was suspended on Saturday. Wu Si, the editor-in-chief of the journal, said he became aware of the closure at 4 pm on Saturday when the provider abruptly cut access to its website.

This has sparked suspicions that the crackdown might be related to the magazine’s publisher, 86-year-old Du Daozheng, who was one of the key planners in the release of Prisoner of the State, Zhao Ziyang's memoir.

Mr Du was one of the people who urged Zhao to write his memoir and also wrote the book’s preface for the Chinese edition.

The memoir looks back at the student protests that triggered the deadly Tiananmen crackdown of 4 June 1989, providing new accounts and personal views about matters that Beijing would rather see lay buried.

On Friday the Guangdong Provincial Press and Publication Bureau told local media to toe the party line and not publish bad news, or news picked up from foreign or non-official media sources.

News not fit for publication include any story about social unrest or criticism of the authorities as well as matters relating to the 4 June anniversary.

Similarly, online articles and contributors must be vetted before publication. Even commercial advertisements must be checked, to prevent dissidents from publishing secret political content as they have done in the past because of a lack of controls.

Liu Junning, 48, a researcher on social issues at the Institute of Chinese Culture under the Ministry of Culture, told the South China Morning Post that he had recently received an official notice of dismissal. “I am sorry that I cannot say too much right now. Thank you for your understanding,” he said.

It was the second time in nine years that he had been expelled from an official research institute. He was kicked out of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' (CASS) Institute of Political Science for introducing liberal ideas.

It is unclear why he fell from grace a second time, but Bei Feng, an influential political blogger, said that last year Liu had signed the pro-democracy manifesto Charter 08.

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