02/26/2007, 00.00
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Another 20 topics banned from media and editors

The Propaganda Administration Department of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television introduces new censorship rules that ban references to Chinese and Soviet historical events as well as human rights and the new lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese media authorities have marked out 20 forbidden areas in an attempt to promote a “harmonious” atmosphere for upcoming national and party conferences.

Restrictions have been placed on coverage of historical events including the anti-rightist campaign under Mao Ze Dong, the Cultural Revolution and more recent events such as the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, the media freedom debate, and legal and rights protection campaigns.

The curbs were outlined at a meeting of the Propaganda Administration Department of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on January 12, a day after a national briefing by the Central Publicity Department (CPD) and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) in which eight mainland intellectuals' books and their publishers were criticised for “overstepping the line.”

According to minutes from the meeting disclosed to some Chinese intellectuals, participants decided that “discussion of the anti-rightist campaign should be played down; as a principle the issue should not be mentioned.”

Minutes also revealed that media coverage of the 90th anniversary of Russia's October Revolution should be strictly censored and the collapse of the former Soviet Union and its East European satellites should be played down.

Naturally, there were other banned areas like “judicial corruption, activists' campaigns to protect individual rights, sexual crimes, and the aristocratic lifestyle of high-income groups.”

Finally, “important state-sponsored construction plans cannot be commented on and challenged with a western-oriented stance . . . and private ownership cannot be affirmed.”

Under Chinese President Hu Jintao’s much vaunted desire to “build a harmonious society” by means of more balanced development and distribution of wealth, censorship would preserve a “harmonious atmosphere.” It would also keep a lid on China’s growing social tensions.

What is more, a “harmonious society” can prevent any major shock ahead of the upcoming National People’s Congress and the Communist Party congress scheduled for March and October respectively.

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