Ytringsfrihed i Kina: Opsamling og links om protesterne i Guangdong

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Journalisterne på en af Kinas mest respekterede aviser, Nanfang Zhoumo, er gået i oprør mod den stigende censur. De har fået opbakning fra andre journalister, bloggere, akademikere, skuespillere og aktivister fra hele landet.

Du kan læse om det i dagens Politiken, og her er en hurtig baggrund om sagen på Kinablog. Nedenunder får du en opsamling fra de andre medier.

Bloomberg giver en opridsning af, hvordan det hele begyndte:

The backlash against censorship was sparked by an unusually forceful intervention by the provincial propaganda bureau. It replaced the paper’s annual New Year’s editorial, a strongly worded commentary supporting free speech and a stronger rule of law in China, with a new one, full of party platitudes.

According to a translation by the China Media Project, a press monitoring organization and website at the University of Hong Kong, the original editorial stated: “Only if constitutionalism is realized and power effectively checked can citizens voice their criticisms of power loudly and confidently, and only then can every person believe in their hearts that they are free to live their own lives. Only then can we build a truly free and strong nation.”

The replacement editorial was an “entirely toothless” piece that included a “vapid passage” about the importance of China’s constitution, and quoted verbatim from the New Year’s editorial run in the party mouthpiece People’s Daily, wrote David Bandurski, project researcher at the China Media Project, on Jan. 3. “Here we extend our blessing and hope that in this new year we can all come a step closer to our dreams,” the new piece stated.

Wall Street Journal skriver, hvordan de strejkende journalister har fået opbakning fra hele Kina:

A number of media organizations have rallied behind journalists at Southern Weekly by posting veiled messages of support on social media and their own websites. Sina Corp.’s Tianjin news portal, for example, arranged its front page so that the first character in each headline spelled out an acrostic message: “Go Southern Weekly.”

Chinese writer and race-car driver Han Han described in his popular blog Monday how Chinese writers live in constant uncertainty over what they can and can’t say.

“Even if you want to talk about the regulations, they won’t clearly tell you what they are, so every person more or less is in violation of the ‘regulations,’ ” he wrote. He lamented what he described as the anonymity of an invisible Chinese censor. “He covers your mouth and tells everyone you’re cheerful,” the post read.

Southern Weekly’s problems are also attracting attention from celebrities who normally avoid political commentary. Film actress Yao Chen, a social-media star with more than 31 million followers on Sina Weibo, posted a quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn—”One word of truth outweighs the whole world”—over the Southern Weekly logo.

Even the Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily appeared to argue for a softer approach, saying that a stable society “must rest on a healthy public opinion environment for support.”

The commentary argued that challenges facing China’s propaganda officials were unprecedented, and said “blunt preaching” must be rejected.

Washington Post skriver også om, hvordan protesten bredte sig på internettet og til resten af Kina, hvor den som sagt har fået stor opbakning:

Among those advocates were the Shanghai race car driver and popular blogger Han Han; well-known actresses Chen Shu, Li Bingbing and Yao Chen, who has more than 31 million followers; actor Chen Kun, with more than 26 million followers; real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang; and Zhang Xin, chief executive of Soho China, Beijing’s largest commercial real estate developer, and her husband, Pan Shiyi, the Soho chairman.

Those speaking out on weibo have said that “the New Year’s Day incident” is getting widespread publicity, despite increasingly frantic-sounding edicts from the central government’s propaganda authorities prohibiting the official media from publishing any information about the event. Censors have banned several terms on weibo, including Southern Weekly’s Chinese name and even the word “lump,” which in Chinese is Tuo, similar to the name of the Guangdong propaganda chief at the center of the storm.

Tea Leaf Nation har glimrende opsamling over den opbakning, som journalisterne har fået, og hvordan medier rundt om i Kina er kreative og smyger sig uden om censuren:

Ren Zhiqiang (@任志强), one of the most outspoken businessmen in China with almost 13 million followers, tweeted on Sina Weibo, “Freedom of press and freedom of speech are rights given to the society and the people by the constitution; they are also symbols of human rights and freedom. Yet they have become pipe dreams without the rule of law, being seriously distorted and restricted. If truth is not allowed to be spoken, would truth disappear?”

Li Chengpeng and Han Han, China’s two most famous bloggers, both wrote articles in support of Southern Weekend. Li wrote, “We don’t need tall buildings, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth. We don’t need the second highest GDP in the world, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth. We don’t need a fleet of aircraft carriers, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth.”

Even the web editors of China’s biggest Internet portals, including Sina, Sohu and Netease, showed their support with a little subversive game. For example, when read vertically, the first characters of seemingly unrelated headlines on a Sina news page delivered the hidden message “Go Southern Weekend!”

Voice of America har talt med den fremtrædende redaktør Li Datong, der stod i centrum af den sidste store protest omkring ytringsfrihed, da myndighederne lukkede magasinet Frysepunkt i 2006. Li Datong siger til VOA:

Li Datong, a former prominent Chinese editor who was fired from a state media organization for his views, says the apparent intervention by the propaganda department appears to be a new tactic for state censors.

“The propaganda department has already changed from the previous mode of censorship after publication to what we see now as a move towards censorship before publication,” said Li. “It does not matter if it was Tuo Zhen, himself, but it was the propaganda department that did this. They have transformed what was control after publication to control before publication. This is a very nasty beginning.”

New York Times sammenfatter, hvordan krisen i Guangdong er en forsmag på, hvor Xi Jinping står politisk, og hvor Kina er på vej hen i de kommende år:

Besides being a weather vane that could reveal the direction of Mr. Xi and the new party leadership, the tensions at Southern Weekend could pose a serious test for Hu Chunhua, the new party chief of Guangdong and a potential candidate to succeed Mr. Xi as the leader of China in a decade.

Mr. Hu’s predecessor, Wang Yang, was labeled a “reformer” by many Western political analysts, but he presided over a tightening of media freedoms in the province, and specifically over the Nanfang Media Group, the parent company of Southern Weekend and other publications. Mr. Hu, 43, is a rising star in the party who got a Politburo seat in November and is a protégé of Hu Jintao, Mr. Xi’s colorless and conservative predecessor.

Christian Science Monitor har en god leder, som du bør læse det hele af. Men her er et sammenklippet uddrag:

An extraordinary protest took place Monday in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. Unlike the almost-daily local protests across China – which are mainly over land grabs, corruption, workplace abuses, and pollution – this one was simply about telling the truth.

But the strike by the editors and the street demonstrations that followed are just the kind of action that the famed anticommunist dissident Václav Havel of the former Czechoslovakia once called “living in truth.” They gave concrete existence to freedom.

In his 1978 work “The Power of the Powerless,” Mr. Havel wrote: “If the main pillar of the [totalitarian] system is living a lie, then it is not surprising that the fundamental threat to it is living the truth. This is why it must be suppressed more severely than anything else.”

And sure enough: On Jan. 3, China’s party machine issued an order to the state-controlled media not to mention the censoring of the editorial.

This cascade of protest may not result soon in any Chinese Arab Spring. The Communist Party has powerful levers of control. It is especially on guard now during a leadership transition. But it shows the difficulty for the party to continue clinging to power through lies and manipulation of the truth – especially as the economy slows down and reduces the incentive of the Chinese for conformity.

Shattering official lies can come in many ways, Havel advised – open letters, hunger strikes, ignoring commands. He knew of what he spoke. He spent five years in prison and was honored after the fall of the Soviet empire by being elected president of his country.

His favorite saying was “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.”

China has changed greatly since its 1989 pro-democracy uprising. With the Internet and the advance of freedom in so many other countries, the Chinese can more easily see through the party’s lies. Living the truth is becoming easier.

South China Morning Post har oversat en hyldest til Nanfang Zhoumo, som Han Han har skrevet:

You can have your so-called “freedoms,” but only because they have the freedom to punish you afterwards. Be it literature, news, films or television, you spend tonnes of energy trying to win their approval. Even though you want some clear rules to go by, they never tell you what they are – so everybody assumes they’re breaking the rules somehow. The only way for you to completely abide by their rules is to become like them. We end up censoring ourselves, always apprehensive, always afraid, always guessing. They grab you by your collar, clamp you by the neck, yet at the same time encourage you to run faster, sing better, and win them more honour.

We hardly have any world-class writers, directors, newspapers, magazines or films. Of course, you can blame that on the incompetence of the professionals. You could also point to Iran and say, hey, their censorship is much stricter than ours, yet they still produce world-famous works of art. You can question why we have to bend ourselves to other people’s standards. Maybe I am indeed not talented enough, but still I don’t appreciate other people censoring me, revising me, or tying me down. So, my solidarity statement today, is not just for my favourite newspaper or those journalists I respect. It is also for those in worse conditions, those media outlets and journalists who come to much more violent and miserable ends. It is also for ourselves.

Southern Weekend has informed me a lot as a reader. It gives power to the weak and hope to the hopeless. So, in its moment of weakness and desperation, I hope we can all lend them some strength, even if just a little, and help it carry on.

Der er video af prosterne på The Lede på New York Times og opsamling på Shanghaiist og på China Digital Times.

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Hurtige klik fra Kina af Kim Rathcke Jensen. Jeg er journalist og BA i kinesisk. Jeg bor i Beijing, hvor jeg arbejder som Politikens korrespondent i Kina og Asien.

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