02/17/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Press censorship: purging editors and publishing denials

The Bingdian Weekly is back on newsstands, but its editors and articles of criticism are gone. Others lose their jobs for publishing articles on social problems and government shortcomings.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The China Youth Daily's outspoken Bingdian Weekly supplement will resume publication on March 1, but Editor Li Datong and Deputy Editor Lu Yuegang have been purged. Editors in other papers have also been sacked.

The four-page supplement was closed down on January 24 after it published an article by Guangdong professor Yuan Weishi criticising the mainstream interpretation of historical events such as the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The Publicity Department said the articled denied "the crimes of imperialist countries invading China. The closure attracted however extensive criticism at home and abroad.

"The China Youth Daily party committee announced that myself and Lu would be transferred to a news research institute," Mr Li said yesterday. Li founded the weekly 11 years ago.

He addressed the party's Central Discipline Inspection Commission, asking for a "responsible reply based on a careful investigation". He said that the daily "took revenge on us without waiting for a higher-level response".

Mr Lu said the purge was "unfair to Li Datong and a rigorous rebuff to me for my previous remarks that irritated the newspaper and the authorities".

China Youth Daily Chief Editor Li Erliang and the newspaper editorial committee were told to make an "in-depth self-criticism".

The issue has reached the halls of power. At a regular press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang defended the decision. The article by Professor Yuan had "gravely violated historical facts, gravely hurt the national feeling of the Chinese people, and gravely injured the image of the China Youth Daily", Mr Qin said.

On February 8, Chen Jieren, chief editor of China Philanthropy Times's Tuesday edition, was also sacked for publishing an article critical of the government's English-language website. In previous media reports, the newspaper was referred to as the Public Interest Times.

Chen was sacked according to the paper's president Liu Jing because these "stories should not have run in our newspaper" and cause us "to lose market share."

Last weekend, Mr Chen published an article online accusing his newspaper's executives of self-censorship, saying that he was sacked for uncovering corruption among local officials.

Mr Chen's dismissal followed the sacking of outspoken Beijing News chief editor Yang Bin and his deputies for publishing articles critical of official authorities. (PB)

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