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China Bans Current Issue of <i>The Economist</i> - 2002-06-21


The Economist magazine has said China has banned newsstand distribution of an issue of the English-language magazine. The issue contains an editorial arguing for political reform in China.

The Economist magazine's June 15 issue contains an 18-page survey on China. James Miles, the magazine's China correspondent, said Chinese authorities often pull China-related material out of the publication before allowing it to be sold on newsstands here. But in this case, he says the entire issue was banned.

"Our circulation department in Hong Kong has been in touch with distributors in China, official distributors, who say that this particular edition cannot be sold on newsstands in China," Mr. Miles said.

The Economist is normally sold to foreigners at luxury hotels in Chinese cities. It costs almost seven dollars, making it prohibitively expensive for most Chinese residents. Mr. Miles said the newsstand ban is therefore largely symbolic and does not interfere with the normal flow of information in China.

But he believes the authorities are especially sensitive about political news coverage just months before a crucial Communist Party congress.

Later this year, China's top leaders, including President Jiang Zemin, are expected to retire from their party positions to make way for a younger generation of politicians. "The authorities are bound to be sensitive at a time like this about what they regard as political rumors or speculation about what might happen after the congress," Mr. Miles said.

The June 15 Economist includes an editorial arguing that China needs to reform its political system. It also contains articles about worker unrest, farmer poverty and bad debts at China's banks. Despite the ban on newsstand distribution, Chinese authorities have not interfered with subscription deliveries of the magazine.

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