China closes liberal Web site after call for political change


Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 6

A liberal Chinese journal had its Web site shut down yesterday, it said, after it urged the country’s Communist leaders — who regularly promise reform — to follow the constitution.

The Web site of Annals of the Yellow Emperor, a prominent Beijing-based publication, was closed days after it published an article arguing that China’s constitution lays out a roadmap for political change.

Attempts to access the Web site yesterday led to a page with a cartoon policeman holding up a badge and the message: “The Web site you are visiting has been closed because it has not been filed on record.”

The move follows a similar call in a key liberal newspaper being censored by the authorities.

Chinese liberals argue that rights enshrined in the constitution, including freedom of speech, press and assembly, are not being respected by the Chinese Communist Party.

“At around nine am today, the Web site was closed,” said a post on the Annals of the Yellow Emperor’s official Web page on Sina Weibo, a microblogging site.

The journal’s editors received a message from Internet regulator the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month stating that the Web site had been “canceled,” the post said.

The ministry did not immediately respond to faxed questions sent by Agence France-Presse yesterday.

The Web site closure came a day after censors blocked an article from popular liberal newspaper Southern Weekly that called for the realization of a “dream of constitutionalism in China” so that citizens’ rights could be protected.

A propaganda official in Guangdong Province, where the newspaper is based, removed the article and replaced it with a weaker message, several current and former journalists at the newspaper said.

The official, Tuo Zhen, “directed that many alterations and replacements be made to the New Year’s special edition. This resulted in numerous errors and accidents”, a former Southern Weekly journalists said in an open letter posted online.

All Chinese media organizations are subject to orders from government propaganda departments, which often suppress news seen as “negative” by the Chinese Communist Party, although some publications take a more critical stance.