Posts Tagged ‘freedom of speech’

Kudos to the Global Times for publishing a lengthy special report about an annual conference of investigative journalists in China. Its publication on the same day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned free-speech advocate Liu Xiaobo (although the event took place in November) indicates that support for the concept cannot be entirely quashed even in state-run media. The article describes the many ways authorities try to suppress the conference, as well as the stories that attendees deemed most worthy.

Advocates of free speech are encouraged to take a look at the article and appreciate the risks Chinese editors and reporters must take to practice genuine journalism:



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As expected, today’s editions of Beijing-based newspapers brim with anti-Nobel Peace Prize editorials fuming about Western insults to China. Here’s a sampling:

“Insult of the Nobel Peace Prize” at China Daily; be sure to check out the comments it attracted – more than 335 so far. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-12/10/content_11680595.htm

“Human Rights Day,” a stupendously self-serving piece of propaganda designed to counter criticism of China’s record in this regard. The timing of its publication today is no accident. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-12/10/content_11685277.htm

“Liu’s Nobel ignores China’s true human rights progress,” which includes a  lie so brazen it is breathtaking: “The 1.3 billion people in China are the ones who have the utmost legitimate right to speak on these issues.” Of course – as long as they don’t mention freedom of speech, democracy or human rights as anything but conspiracies of Western cultural imperialism. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-12/10/content_11685884.htm

If you can take any more, the following links to the Global Times and People’s Daily provide more along the same lines: http://www.globaltimes.cn/


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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, imprisoned Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, has been silenced and punished for years because he spoke out in favor of free speech and an end to one-party rule in China. The picture of an empty chair at the award ceremony today speaks eloquently about Liu’s oppression, and his own words about banishing hatred from his country are astonishing evidence of why the Chinese government feared the power of his public proclamations. For a translation into English of Liu’s final address to the court that sentenced him to 11 years in prison, go to this link at the China Digital Times, a project of the journalism school at the University of California in Berkeley: http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2010/02/liu-xiaobo-i-have-no-enemies-my-final-statement/#

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After a spate of hysterical denunciations about interference in Chinese affairs and cultural imperialism, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony slated for this Friday (Dec. 10) is now being greeted in Chinese media with a thunderous silence. No doubt propaganda authorities have ordered news media not to mention imprisoned Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is serving 11 years in prison for advocating freedom of speech, an act considered to be subversion.

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The list of free-speech martyrs in China stands to grow by another 23 people. This month, almost two dozen formerly high-ranking officials in Chinese media, academia, government and the Communist Party issued a call for free speech and freedom of the press in a letter addressed to China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Their demands include abolishng censorship, dismantling the propoganda apparataus, firing spies who monitor communications and paid flunkies who write bogus messages, ending restrictions on journalists and revealing all parts of the Party’s sorry history between the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

That last proposal means confronting the deadly acts of Mao Tse-Tung, from famines to purges. A self-obsessed dictator would be revealed behind the Great Leader.

Telling the truth, or a close approximation thereof, in a direct, unembellished manner is alien practice in Chinese media. Adopting it would require everyone to buck cultural traditions of indirect communications and consequent reading-between-the-lines.  Even more daunting, they might face the same punishment likely to be meted out to the 23 signers of this latest call for democracy, or least an aspect of it.

Almost all the signatories are listed as “former” this and that. Presumably, this means they can’t be sacked or demoted. Worse might await them – beatings, house arrest, denial of medical care, disappearance, labor re-education camp or prison. Their families could suffer, also, perhaps for generations. Their voices can be stifled, their words lost and their names increasingly obscure under decades of official denial, obfuscation and censorship.

It would behoove Western journalists, and all who enjoy the protections and privileges of free speech, to support them. Below is a link to the letter, followed by links to three organizations that could use help to fight this battle for us:


World Press Freedom Committee, http://www.wpfc.org; Amnesty International USA, http://www.amnestyusa.org/; Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/

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Chinese news agency Xinhua reported today that a Foreign Ministry spokesman says the Nobel Peace Prize award to an imprisoned democracy advocate “shows no respect for the judicial system of China.” In fact, China has no judicial system that functions in any way that would be recognized by First World standards. It has the appearance of one without the substance. There are judges, lawyers, courts and police. But judges can refuse to take cases based on their own wishes to avoid rocking the boat. They often issue rulings according to the wishes of Party authorities. Lawyers brave enough to represent citizens against government wrongdoing risk house arrest, “disappearance,” labor re-education camp or even prison. Police often are deployed as storm troopers against people desparate enough to publicly protest for their rights. China also has a constitution that purports to guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But those who dare to exercise those rights face punishment ranging from loss of job to imprisonment. For a look at the Xinhua item, follow this link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-10/12/content_11401571.htm

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