News / Asia

Retired Chinese Officials Urge Government to Respect Free Speech

Chinese man stops at a news stand on a street in Beijing (file photo)
Chinese man stops at a news stand on a street in Beijing (file photo)

A group of retired senior Chinese officials is challenging government censorship and is calling for greater respect for freedom of speech.

The former president of China University of Political Science and Law, Jiang Ping, has confirmed that he put his name to open letter calling for greater freedom of speech. The letter was written earlier in the month but made public Wednesday.

Jiang says he thinks political reform in China is still not in place yet, and that there are still many restrictions on freedom of speech.

Jiang was one of the 23 people who signed the open letter calling on the government to abolish media censorship. The letter stresses that although China's Constitution protects freedom of speech and assembly, these rights have been negated by detailed rules enforced by the Communist Party and government.

The letter calls democracy in China "fake democracy," and describes the Communist Party's central propaganda department as a "black hand."  

David Bandurski of the China Media Project, a Hong Kong group that monitors Chinese media, translated the letter into English.

David Bandurski (file photo)
David Bandurski (file photo)

"One of the things that I really noticed as I was reading through and translating this letter is the way it describes control in China, media control, press censorship.... [T]he word was invisible black hand - almost this idea that we can't even find the specific persons who are responsible for this. Almost as though, and they don't use this word, creature, but it almost gives the sense of a creature that no can see and that everyone is controlled by and subjected to," said Bandurski.

Even Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is not exempt from censorship. He has gone further than other leaders in urging faster political reform, but these comments were cut from later text versions of recent speeches he has given at home and abroad.

Bandurski says it is significant that the letter calling for better protection of freedom of speech came from retired officials whom he referred to as "Party elders."

"They have held very important positions in the past, so they are party insiders, who are supporters of political reform in China. And of course, this letter specifically addresses the issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression in China," remarked Bandurski.

The signers say the letter is not related to the case of Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who last week became the newest Nobel Peace laureate.

Liu is serving an 11-year jail sentence for subversion. He was one of the key organizers of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping political reform.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs