Letter by China Youth Daily’s Lu Yuegang gains traction

The Financial Times has picked up the dramatic story, which should help ensure its continuity.

A Chinese journalist’s eloquent protest against his newspaper’s political masters has thrown a spotlight on the Communist government’s media controls…..

Mr Lu wrote that Youth Daily staff had long taken a pragmatic view of the role of a Communist party paper, “holding their noses” when filling news pages with the activities of Youth League leaders and “transmitting lies when forced to do so by senior levels”. But a desire to be professional and objective journalists meant such accommodation had limits.

“The China Youth Daily can be a rubbish bin for the League central committee, but the paper itself must absolutely not be turned into rubbish,” he wrote. “There will certainly be people to produce a garbage paper, but it won’t be us….

The Maoist dictum that the party must control both “the barrel of the gun and the barrel of the pen” was hopelessly unsuited to modern China’s needs, he wrote, blaming a harsh editorial in the party’s People’s Daily as a factor behind the bloody end to student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.”

This guy is supernaturally brave; the article quotes sections of his letter that seethe with rage and contempt at a government that tolerates neither dissent nor idealism. So far, no punishment or repercussion.

Reading his words, I think back to my interview with the 1989 student protestor and flag bearer in Shanghai, and how he told me the Chinese people today don’t care about repression and rights and freedom of speech. Financial security is all that matters. And I know that to a large extent he’s right. But then, there’s Jiao Guobiao and Liu Di and Du Daobin and Lu Yuegang and Jiang Yanyong and those frightening study groups, so we know somebody in China sure cares about liberties. They’re mainly academics, but the schools are where the unrest that leads to change so often begins, especially in China.

The article wonders how China can reconcile its efforts to commercialize its media and attract more foreign investment, while at the same time prohibiting dissent and censoring anything it sees as “idealistic.” It’s an excellent question.

UPDATE: This is indispensable — go to CDN now for a translation of much of Lu’s letter. It’s great.

Update II: Also impressive is this translation of the entire letter.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

a full translation of the article is at:


July 24, 2004 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

Also keep in mind what this might mean for those wrestling at the top of the food chain. Hu Jintao’s primary power base has been based upon his time serving at the top of the China Youth League.

July 26, 2004 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

Let’s plunge straight into today’s Asia linkfest: Hong Kong, Taiwan and China More on the Taiwan-China potential for conflict. Firstly Richard points to a story of some Taiwanese people perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joseph Bosco fol…

July 26, 2004 @ 12:45 am | Comment

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