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Editor has last laugh on China censors

LI DATONG, the sacked editor of one of China's most influential investigative newspapers, laughed as he explained why the closure and pending reopening of the weekly Bingdian ( Freezing Point) added up to an incredible victory, despite his dismissal.

While the fight was not over yet, he sensed a watershed. "This is a rare occurrence," he said.

"It (the reopening of an axed newspaper) has never happened ? and this time individuals have paid less of a price than normal, and people recognise that they can fight for their rights no matter how strong the other side is."

Since Mr Li founded Bingdian 11 years ago, the paper has won a loyal following by challenging the party line and publishing stories on corruption and other sensitive issues such as Taiwan independence.

On January 24, propaganda chiefs finally cracked and ordered Bingdian's closure – ostensibly because the paper had published an essay by a history professor, Yuan Weioshi, questioning the Government's interpretation of historical events such as the Boxer Rebellion.

News of Bingdian's apparent demise was swiftly transmitted through internet and underground networks.

Then came a rare joint declaration by 13 Communist Party elders and intellectuals in support of the newspaper.

Two days after the declaration became public, the authorities announced that Bingdian would be allowed to resume publication on March 1.

In a face-saving measure, Mr Li was sacked and his deputy ordered to run an article rejecting Professor Yuan's controversial essay.

Other editors and reporters who have crossed the party have been jailed, and last month, a provincial editor who exposed corruption among traffic police was beaten to death.

Date posted: February 26, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 10