China Development Brief shutdown

Beijing silences pro-China Briton

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.”

Translation:

“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?

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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.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Personally, I am amazed that they got away with it for so long. But, seems to me that things are changing in china. for the worst.

July 12, 2007 @ 9:24 pm | Comment

Note this expulsion as well:

http://china.notspecial.org/archives/2007/07/homeward_christ.html

Chinese history is repeating itself yet again.

July 13, 2007 @ 12:34 am | Comment

I tend to interpret this incident in a slightly different way. I’m not convinced that the shut down has much to do with whatever Young has or has not done. But rather, it is one in a sequence of actions taken by the Chinese Government targeting foreigners residing and working in China. According to the blog “China Rises”, at least 7 foreign correspondents have been named by the Chinese Foreign Ministry for criticism since April this year. Washington Post also reported that more than 100 missionaries have been deported since the beginning of this year.

There is no doubt that the intention is to restrict the flow of information prior to the September Party Congress, and possibly during the period leading to the 2008 Olympics. I won’t be at all surprised if the ban on China Development Brief will be lifted once the events are over. It’s a waiting game, by the look of it.

July 13, 2007 @ 2:00 am | Comment

As I said recently on this blog, the Guangdong city that I live in recently severely tightened qualification requirements for English teachers, making it very difficult for schools to find qualified workers. You gotta be very (overly) qualified and damn serious about teaching here if you want to get a job now. I very much suspect this is to keep out trouble makers in the year ahead. Only my two cent’s worth…

July 13, 2007 @ 9:13 am | Comment

I heard that CDB’s troubles are tied more to its close links to domestic NGOs which China fears it can’t control in the run up to the Congress and the Games.

Was CDB a money-making venture that may have been coveted by a Chinese entity?

July 13, 2007 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

Nick Young committed three sins.

1. He developed a popular and independent source of news about China (even Murdoch can not do this).
2. He drew attention to the rich-poor gap and quoted Mao, making the Chinese government look reactionary.
3. He drew attention to China’s poverty and backwardness at a time when it wants to be seen as a market economy.

So like Mark Kitto, Scott Savitt etc, he is shown the door.

China will not tolerate any reporting of local conditions that it can not control.

July 15, 2007 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

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