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Chinese Media Allowing More Gov`t Criticism

Posted April. 21, 2009 06:07,   


Wang Shuai, a 24-year-old worker in Shanghai, posted a comment in the middle of last month on the Internet on behalf of his parents living in his hometown, Lingbao in Henan Province.

Wang said the compensation for expropriation was too small, and was eventually arrested in Shanghai and deported to his hometown. He was also detained for eight days for criticizing the government.

News of his prosecution spread throughout the world, and criticism ensued from the Internet and even Chinese media. This apparently prompted Lingbao authorities to release him and issue a public apology on newspapers April 17.

Wu Baochuan, a 39-year-old businessman in Qingdao, Shandong Province, made a similar online complaint in September 2007. He said his land in his hometown in autonomous Inner Mongolia was expropriated but complained that the compensation was too small.

Wu was also arrested and deported to his hometown, and has served almost two years in prison for criticizing the government. His story was not known to the world then.

The two cases show that Chinese media are not afraid to report on abuse of government power and affirm their people’s right to criticize the government. This is quite exceptional for Chinese media, which are usually cautious about criticizing the government.

“No other country in the world punishes those who criticize the government,” the Beijing Youth Daily said in a commentary carried yesterday. “The government should not stop the people’s criticism with punishment and instead think hard about what to learn from such criticism.”

Yang Cheng Wan Bao, a major newspaper in Guangdong Province, said Saturday, “The 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress guaranteed freedom of expression and supervision of the government in 2007. Criticizing the government is a basic right and public servants must get used to it.”

Chinese media cited a good example in freedom of expression in Liangping County in Chongqing. An old man posted a comment criticizing the county government by naming high-ranking officials. The officials paid attention to his words and guaranteed his safety.

Having had a terrible experience three years ago in which the critic was not so fortunate, Chongqing handled the case well this time.