Chinese Authorities Punish Two Newspaper Editors

November 1, 2004

The Washington Times Web site is carrying a UPI report stating that Cheng Yizhong was expelled from the Communist Party last week. Cheng, a former editor of the Southern Metropolitan Daily, a pioneering newspaper in Guangdong, was detained earlier this year along with the Southern Metropolitan Daily's former deputy editor-in-chief and Southern Group general manager Yu Huafeng and former Southern Metropolitan Daily editor Li Minying. Cheng was released after five months without having been charged. Yu Huafeng and Li Mingying are currently appealing their jail sentences.

Last month the China Information Center (story in Chinese) reported that Xiao Weibin , editor-in-chief of the magazine "Tong Zhou Gong Jin" was fired for publishing an interview with former Guangdong Party leader Ren Zhongyi. According to previous reports, earlier this year Ren Zhongyi had sent a letter to Communist Party authorities encouraging them to handle the prosecutions of Cheng Yizhong, Li Minying, and Yu Huafeng carefully . In the interview published in the "Tong Zhou Gong Jin," Ren criticized the Chinese government for suppressing freedom of expression, saying:

Moreover, freedom of speech and publication are written into the constitution and are basic rights of the people. Have the central authorities not repeatedly emphasized ruling the country according to law and ensuring human rights? If we have laws but do not observe them and know the law but violate it, we cannot talk of the rule of law. A society that depends on the gun and the pen to rule is not a democratic society and cannot achieve lasting political stability.

The South China Morning Post (subscription required) reported that, according to Asia Week magazine, the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department found the article so offensive it sent a deputy minister to Guangdong to investigate.