A group of veteran Chinese Communist Party members and academics has issued a joint statement criticizing the government for excessive media censorship.

The statement released to reporters Wednesday warned Beijing of unrest if some measures of free expression were not permitted.

The statement in particular referred to last month's closure of a popular supplement to the China Youth Daily. Freezing Point was a more than 10-year old publication that gained popularity for its bold articles.

The joint statement was signed by 13 people, many of whom formerly were high-ranking officials.

Among the signatories were Chairman Mao's former secretary Li Rui; the former head of the Communist Party's Propaganda Department, Zhu Houze; and Li Pu, the retired deputy director of the official Xinhua news agency.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.