People’s Daily: Oppose the Scarlet Letters

Main Link: 人民日报:政府要视媒体为朋友而不是对手

Deng Yuwen (邓聿文), associate senior editor of Study Times, a publication of the Central Party School, writes in the official People’s Daily today that there need to be stronger institutional protections for media to guarantee “supervision by public opinion” (舆论监督), or media supervision,

the China Media Project (CMP, Hong Kong) quotes People’s Daily.

The speech followed a recent speech by Chinese chief state councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝) on improving governance, writes CMP on its Newswire page (no permalinks there).

The media were special in that they worked in a more open, realtime, and authoritative way than other tools of supervision, Deng wrote in his article of September 3. A number of protracted and unresolved corruption cases and cases which had violated the legal rights of industries and citizens, attempts to settle matters outside the legal system, and an unnecessarily restricted numbers and illegal cases of “red head documents” (红头文件)*) had been exposed by the media. After all, media exercised no actual power and could themselves be interfered with by the authorities, which put up obstacles for the media, for reasons of publications “affecting unity” (影响团结) etc.. Deng cites the Xifeng incident (西丰事件) as an example.

The work of journalists was best guaranteed if governments and its leaders changed their views and looked at the press as friends, rather than adversaries, which could help the authorities to act in accordance with the law. Secondly, the authorities should reduce their camera obscura proceedings (暗箱操作的方式) and become more transparent, and thirdly, journalists who got into trouble with authorities should get immediate legal assistance and protection (得到司法的及时救助和保护). Among certain cadres, there was still the notion that power was above the law, which was exactly why Wen Jiabao had emphasized the need for leading cadres on all levels to respect the law and to fullfill the People’s Courts’ judgments and decisions. It could be said that if the system found no solutions to such problems, the difficult situation of the media could hardly be alleviated.

____________

Footnote

*) Baidu‘s dictionary describes red head documents as a document to instruct leading bodies of the party and the government and adds a description by People’s Daily of July 5, 1984 to the definition:

It binds by forces influenced by traditional habits, sorts out those who don’t take its ways, and has for long adopted wait-and-see attitudes, has added certain functional departments’ conditions and restrictions, and has become an “obstruction” to Enterprise reform.

指党、政领导机关下发的文件。因版头名称常印成红字,故称。

《人民日报》1984.7.5:“受旧的传统习惯势力束缚,离开‘红头文件’不走路的人,长期以来采取等待、观望的态度,加上某些职能部门的条条框框,成为企业改革中的‘梗阻’。”

Global Voices quotes from a blog by Jason Ng, Keneng Ba (“Maybe”), which describes an alleged role of the red head documents in internet censorship:

Sometimes, the Internet censor would not only demand the website to delete content, but also demand them to re-post or direct search result to certain official websites. Such kind of notification is usually called Red Head paper. They are issued either by the Internet control administration or by the government information office.

Related

Wen Jiabao puts Political Reform on Agenda, Aug 29, 2010

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