I don’t expect this to get very far, but you really do have to read it.
On October 11, 23 Chinese Communist Party elders known for their pro-reform positions, including Mao Zedong’s former secretary Li Rui (李锐) and former People’s Daily editor-in-chief Hu Jiwei (胡绩伟), submitted an open letter to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, formally China’s highest state body, calling for an end to restrictions on expression in China.
The letter urges the Communist Party to abolish censorship and realize citizens’ right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Seizing on the opportunity afforded by the awarding of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) with the Nobel Peace Prize last week, the letter refers explicitly to prior statements on reform and free speech made by both President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) and Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝).
You can read the entire translated letter at the link above. I think this takes the wind out of the sails of those who’re been chirping that Liu Xiaobo’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize wouldn’t have any effect in China. These people are almost as annoying as those chirping that Liu Xiaobo is an American agent because he’s supported by the NED, a claim that is patently absurd. Just because someone gives you some money doesn’t make you their spy or agent. Lots of US NGO’s give money to the Dalai Lama, and he is still an outspoken and self-avowed Marxist. The fenqing have their long knives out for Liu and will grasp at any straws they can. For some interesting debates about this see the comments to this post and this post. Our friend pugster is really banging the NED drum on both threads, and probably others as well. 50 mao here, 50 mao there.
Meanwhile, I strongly recommend that no one hold their breath while waiting for censorship in China to go away. But it’s encouraging to see Liu’s prize embolden others who want to make China and its government freer, more transparent and more accountable.
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.