China Cartoonist Suspended For Drawing Hu Crying

September 14, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: September 14, 2006 12:00 am

HONG KONG—A newspaper in southern China has suspended a cartoonist after he drew a weeping Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Thursday.

Depicting national leaders in cartoons is considered politically incorrect in China, although it is periodically done without repercussions, the South China Morning Post said.

But artist Kuang Biao's cartoon of a teary-eyed Hu replying to a letter from the daughter of a university professor who died from overwork aged 48 was regarded by mainland censors as unacceptable, the newspaper said.

The Guangzhou-based tabloid News Express, which published the drawing on Monday, suspended Kuang in what he considered a pre-emptive move to protect him from further punishment from the central propaganda authorities, the Post said.

“It's a gesture by the newspaper to show that action has been taken against their wayward journalist,” the Post quoted Kuang as saying. “Sometimes in China, a good offence is the best defence.”

Kuang is being allowed to draw for other publications under a pseudonym, it said.

Communist China's official Xinhua news agency announced rules on Sunday requiring foreign media to seek its approval to distribute news, pictures and graphics within China. International rights groups denounced the regulations as an attack on freedom of information.