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• Party Officials Push Back against Newspaper Shutdown
• Congress Blasts Technology execs on Chinese Censorship

Party Officials Push Back against Newspaper Shutdown

2-15: On Wednesday, the New York Times reported the release of a letter written by former Communist Party media officials. The former leaders condemned the recent crack down on freedom of the press, asserting that such moves violated China’s constitutional guarantee of free speech.

The letter, dated February 2, but not released until Tuesday, follows a controversial shut down of the popular journal Bing Dian or Freezing Point known for its hard hitting social criticisms and analyses. This response comes amidst a rare burst of opposition to the legality of such censorship. The letter was signed by former managers of China’s tight press control, Chairman Mao’s former secretary, Li Rui; the former editor of the People’s Daily, Hu Jiwei; and Propaganda Minister, Zhu Houze. The text condemned the “malignant management” and “abuse of power” by the Propaganda Department.

Although Freezing Point had been under scrutiny in recent months, the newspaper was shut down on January 24 by the Propaganda Department of the ruling Communist Party. The paper had published an article criticizing how history is taught in China. The article, written by Yuan Weishi of Zhongshan University, asserted that Chinese textbooks never acknowledge the culpability of the party but blame others instead.

In its 2005 World Press Freedom Index, the Paris based organization Reporters without Borders concluded China ranked 159 out of 167 countries listed.

The Congress Blasts Technology execs on Chinese Censorship

2-15: The House International Relations Committee took Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. to task over each company’s business practices in China. Despite the two companies’ traditional status as darlings of the financial and political world, representatives from the two companies faced a barrage of criticism during the Capitol Hill hearing. The criticism comes in response to self-censorship recently implemented in order to gain access to the burgeoning domestic Chinese market.

Google has come under attack for giving in to Chinese pressure to censor results of politically sensitive searches on its website. Yahoo has been under scrutiny after allegedly handing over digital records that led to the arrest and prison sentence of a Chinese dissident. Microsoft, although not present at the Capitol Hill hearings, has come under intense criticism after blocking the blog of a critic at the behest of Beijing.

As a result of the hearings, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) has stated that he is planning on introducing a bill to outlaw American technology corporations from cooperating with foreign governments efforts to censor online content.

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