Respected 92-year-old publisher says he feels ‘deeply miserable, but has no choice’
By Choi Chi-yuk
South China Morning Post
The shingle of Yanhuang Chunqiu, a liberal political magazine, in the window of its editorial office in Beijing in July SCMP. Photo: Simon Song
The founder of the outspoken mainland liberal political journal Yanhuang Chunqiu said he would rather close the magazine than have it fail to uphold the political principles of reform and opening up advocated by the Communist Party’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
Du Daozheng, the former publisher of the magazine who was sacked last week in a management reshuffle initiated by the cultural academy overseeing the publication, announced on Sunday the monthly journal would close.
“I feel deeply miserable, but we have no choice,” Du said in a phone interview.
It is unknown if the Chinese National Academy of Arts, which oversees the journal, will continue to publish without Du and his editorial staff.
The 92-year-old Du, who kept coughing during the interview, said in a statement dated Sunday that the academy had unilaterally abandoned an agreement that guaranteed the autonomy of the magazine, thus violating freedom of publication. The August issue of the magazine could not be published.
“Staff with the Chinese National Academy of Arts affiliated with the Cultural Ministry came to the newsroom before taking control of our printing shop, leaving the newsroom paralysed with nobody working, and the eighth issue failed to come out as a result,” Du said in the phone interview.
Du, also a former chief of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said that he and other editorial committee members became very worried there might be a shift from the core value of the magazine.
He said that core value was upholding the guiding principles, political line and policies advocated by Deng, adding: “In this sense, we’ve by no means budged an inch over the past 25 years.
“If they use our name to publish anything which is in violation of the principle of the third plenum of the party’s 11th national congress or the reform and opening up pushed forward by Deng, selling what they believe in, we would rather fold the magazine in advance.”
The influential journal had a monthly circulation of about 200,000 and voiced support for constitutional democracy. It is also known for running articles that contest the official version of Communist Party history.
It has had the backing of many retired senior party and government officials but came under pressure from the authorities in recent years to soften its editorial stance.
Du said he did not believe the officials with the Chinese National Academy of Arts were powerful enough to order the management reshuffle, but he also did not believe the idea came from party chief Xi Jinping.
“I guess it’s somebody in between the party’s central leadership and the academy,” Du said.
The academy, in a notice last week, initiated the management reshuffle. Du was among those dismissed and the chief editor, Xu Qingquan, was demoted.
The newly appointed publisher, Jia Leilei, 60, is a deputy director of the Chinese National Academy of Arts and a film expert. The new editor-in-chief, Hao Qingjun, 48, is a researcher of literature at the academy.
Du said that as far as he knew, mainland media had been ordered not to report that the magazine had ceased publication.
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Tags: censorship, Chinese Communist Party, Chinese National Academy of Arts, Cultural Ministr, Cultural Revolution, Du Daozheng, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, Guiding Principles, Hao Qingjun, Jia Leilei, policies advocated by Deng, political line, Xi Jinping, Xu Qingquan, Yanhuang Chunqiu