The Telegraph reports today that the China Development Brief has been shut down by the Chinese authorities.
A Briton who has spent years trying to convince foreigners through a newsletter that China is unfairly portrayed as repressive by the Western media has been ordered to stop publication by Beijing.
Nick Young claims that he has also been threatened with deportation from China over articles he has edited in the China Development Brief, which monitors social progress and reports on the activities of non-governmental organisations.
About a dozen officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau and the Beijing Statistical Bureau visited the office of the newsletter last week and accused Mr Young of violating the statistics law by conducting “unauthorised surveys”. Mr Young has since been ordered to stop publication of the Chinese edition and has been questioned by police.
Of course Mr Young was not some sickening apologist, but I think this is a good example of the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude. It doesn’t matter whether you like or hate China, are pragmatic or idealistic, etc. If you do “certain things” it doesn’t like, you’ve crossed that invisible red line they hide from view so as to ensure they can move it around whenever convenient (to stop anyone staying a millimetre on the legal side) and then say:
“Ah, very sorry – you break Chinese law so we must take action.”
“You’ve done something we’ve arbitrarily decided we don’t like, so we’re going to shut you down because no one can stop us.”
Sad, isn’t it, that the Chinese authorities censure someone who tried to argue things weren’t as bad as they’re sometimes shown abroad?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.