In 1998, retired Xinhua News Agency journalist Dai Huang (now 79) published a book about his life - including the 21 years he spent in labor camps after he was labeled a "rightist" in 1957 during the "anti-rightist campaign." His crime included: criticizing Mao's cult of personality. Despite the fact that the book already had two print runs in the late 90's and early 00's, the publishing authorities have now blocked him from reprinting the book again. This is yet another indication that China's leadership has gotten more paranoid and insecure in many ways than they were in the late 90's - despite the fact that China's global influence and power have grown in recent years.
The South China Morning Post reported earlier this week that a Beijing court has now rejected Dai's lawsuit against the publishing authorities, in which he challenged the ban of his book as unconstitutional. (free link thanks to AsiaMedia)
Dai's lawyer is the well known civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Pu's Sohu blog, incidentally, has recently been deleted without explanation by the corporate net-nannies over at Sohu. Did Pu Zhiqiang break any Chinese laws with anything he wrote on his blog? Was he warned by Sohu that he was doing anything that would cause his blog to be deleted? Have they told him on whose authority and according to what order by which government entity his blog was deleted? As a Sohu user does he have any way to appeal the deletion? No. Of course not. Why treat your users like adults when you don't have to? (Recall that several Chinese lawyers recently protested blog deletions by Sina.com as well.) Thanks to John Kennedy for translating one of Pu's statements re-posted to a BBS.
The Chinese Communist Party's Central Propaganda Department convened a meeting at the beginning of this year laying out the ground rules on what should and shouldn't appear in China's media and publications. The Anti-Rightist campaign of 50 years ago was listed as one of the no-go-zones. Talking about it is a threat to today's leaders, apparently. The meeting was summarized in this article (in Chinese) which appeared in a Hong Kong-based publication and circulated around the Internet. It has since been translated into English at the Chinese Content Wiki. Here is a long excerpt containing the decisions regarding censorship of history:
-This year is the 50th anniversary of the anti-right movement. As events over the past few years demonstrate, many people bearing dissatisfaction with The Party have, through various guises, depicted and glamorized the "anti-right" period of history. Of these people, many are well-known scholars, but they have but one purpose: to smear the name of the Communist Party. For this reason, no memoirs or books regarding the "anti-right" period of history are allowed to be published, and any articles regarding "the anti-right movement" may not be printed.
-Based on practical experience from the past few years, some people in society are "breaking through" the Cultural Revolution, wholly disavowing Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong Thought, attempting and then achieving their comprehensive goal of disavowing the Communist Party of China. For this reason, not only must this kind of article not be published, but vigilance must also be increased.
-Starting today, all historical problems must be in accordance with: "The Resolution on a Number of The Party's Historical Problems Since the Founding of the Country" (hereafter, "The Historical Resolution"), review treatises from the older generation of revolutionaries like Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun, as well as embodying the principles of "Looking Ahead in Solidarity". Criticism of historical events must adhere to "The Historical Resolution", and no so-called "first-hand material" or previously published articles, including those from People's Daily that violate The Historical Resolution may not be used as justification. Starting today, all books and articles that violate the spirit of The Historical Resolution may not be published.
-Starting today all specialized accounts published by current and past Central Government leaders must be in accordance with The Historical Resolution.
-Except for The Central Government Document Publishing House, all unauthorized specialized accounts and information regarding Central Government Leaders may not be quoted, compiled or distributed within the country.
-Articles regarding memoirs by current and former Central Government leaders, including those written by the authors in question, their families, secretaries and friends must be applied for by the person in question themselves through the Press and Publication Administration. Those not approved for publication must not be privately printed in any form, or transmitted via electronic means, and especially must not be published overseas.