Beijing Silences Two Outspoken Journalists

November 6, 2011 Updated: November 23, 2011

Chinese authorities have cracked down on two publications: one has stopped publishing, and the other has dismissed its chief editor. In doing so, officials may be already laying the groundwork for next year’s 18th National Congress.

Zhu Shunzhong, the chief editor of The Great Wall Monthly, and ten staff members left the magazine, forcing the suspension of its No. 10 edition. Whether the magazine will resume publication is not known.

The primary reason for the Great Wall Monthly being shut down was political retaliation, according to Chen Yongmiao, a Beijing-based lawyer and commentator.

Zhu has been involved in the drafting of a 100 million yuan (US$15.7 million) ballot campaign to elect Cao Tian, an independent candidate, for mayor of Zhengzhou. Publications established by Zhu have also been promoting political reform in China and reporting on other sensitive political issues such as human rights, Chen said.

“Even though Cao is merely an independent candidate, for the communist officials it is anything but a trivial issue. Especially in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, Cao’s participation in the elections has been an enormously eye-catching event. Government officials expended a lot of resources before Cao’s campaign was successfully suppressed,” Chen said.

In a microblog dated Oct. 30, Zhu responded to his magazine stopping publication, saying: “Even though I am reluctant to leave, I have no choice. If you don’t allow me to report the truth, please get back to your superiors and tell them that this country still needs a group of good people who have lofty ideals and care about the world.”

Chief Editor of People’s Daily Edition Sacked

The other, more surprising, crack-down, was at People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, which sacked Chen Jieren, Chief Editor of its Jiangsu online edition.

Chen, a senior figure in China’s media industry, commented on his dismissal on a Weibo microblog on the afternoon of Nov. 1, saying: “It is my honor to announce that according to the notification sent to me by People’s Daily two days ago, my job as the Executive Chief Editor has been terminated. It is because I have criticized the government too much, and I am viewed as an informer. The CCP’s propaganda machine cannot hire those who don’t cooperate. Hereafter, the People’s Daily conglomerate cannot hire me again in the future.”

Chen’s microblog is now also shut down.

The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is held about once every five years, with the 18th Congress scheduled for next autumn. Chen Yongmiao linked the moves by the CCP to control speech, including a recent tightening on the Twitter-like service Weibo, to the purpose of maintaining stability prior to next year’s congress.

Read the original Chinese article.

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