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Monday, December 13, 2004

More Prominent Dissidents Jailed in China

As China rises to become an international player in the global economy, its internal affairs take on a new resonance. The economy is booming, perhaps even overheating, and hundreds of millions of people have enough money to live a good life, which in any politic is an important freedom. (It's only fraction of the population, but a significant enough number to attract enormous foreign investment.) But absent freedom of expression is it enough to provide long-term stability? On the low end of the scale, the peasants are increasingly protesting their poor conditions, injustices by corrupt local leaders and industrialists (the latter producing goods at the behest of foreign investment) and a spate of Chinese mining disasters in the last few weeks. I alluded to Beijing's recent crackdown on "intellectuals" (in China this seems to mean anyone in media or education who has a coherent criticism of the party) in an earlier post and today's news adds two more names to the list of dissidents under pressure.

This, from the Washington post:

Action Could Represent Warning to Liberal Intellectuals

By Philip P. Pan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 13, 2004; 5:05 PM

BEIJING, Dec. 13 -- Chinese police detained two prominent dissident writers Monday night in an apparent campaign by the government to reassert authority over liberal intellectuals who have been increasingly outspoken in their criticism of the governing Communist Party, friends and family members said.


The party's propaganda authorities ... recently ordered state media to limit reporting about independent-minded scholars and activists who have been willing to criticize the government, journalists said. The directive, the latest in a series tightening controls on state media, also barred the use of the increasingly popular phrase "public intellectuals" to describe these individuals.

"The notion calls up the idea of independence -- but intellectuals are not independent, they belong to the working class, are part of the people and are a group under the leadership of the Communist Party," the People's Daily, the party's flagship newspaper, said in an editorial last month. "All this talk about intellectuals speaking up for the downtrodden is ridiculous..."

Read the rest, which also reports how this has affected one of the jailed dissident's wife and her poignant comments.

UPDATE: These two dissidents were released the next day, worldwide press coverage probably had an effect on that. But the message was clear.

// posted by Ellen @  19:53   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.

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