Deng Yuwen (邓聿文), deputy editor (associate senior editor of Study Times) of Study Times (学习时报), the journal of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, wrote an opinion for the Financial Times on February 27 this year, arguing that China should abandon North Korea. Quoting South Korean Chosun Ilbo, the BBC‘s Mandarin website reports that Deng has been suspended from his function as deputy editor for an indefinite period. In a telephone interview with Chosun Ilbo, Deng reportedly said that the foreign ministry had sent a “punitive expedition” (兴师问罪) to the CCP Party School because of his article. He was still on the payroll, but didn’t know when he would be given another post.
It’s doesn’t read like complete ostracism – and it would spell unequal treatment of academics if it turns out to be a real purge. After all, a fortnight earlier than Deng, on February 13, Shen Dingli (沈丁立), director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, published a much more strongly-worded article with Foreign Policy, and apparently faces no problems as a result. Then again, even if showing off rightful indignation at Pyongyang, Shen had still hedged his bets:
Let’s face it: China has reached a point where it needs to cut its losses and cut North Korea loose.
China likely handles North Korea with kid gloves because it fears what would happen if the regime collapsed. If things turned bad, tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugees could flee across the border, destabilizing parts of northeastern China. North Korea’s eventual reunification with South Korea might lead to a democratic U.S. ally with the potential for tens of thousands of U.S. and Korean troops […]
You get the picture.
Besides, the Party School may be deemed too close to the center of political power to allow their authors and editors to speak their (individual, maybe) views freely – on sensitive issues, anyway.
When reached by phone on Monday (apparently by the South China Morning Post / SCMP), Deng declined to confirm his suspension.