February 5 — Southern Metropolis Daily ran the first editorial by Taiwanese intellectual Lung Ying-tai [JMSC faculty page] to appear in mainland media since the shutdown in January 2006 of Freezing Point, a supplement of China Youth Daily. Following the shutdown of Freezing Point, an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao from Lung Ying-tai raised the stakes for top Chinese leaders, as Lung asked Hu Jintao rhetorically how China and Taiwan could consider re-unification when leaders in China still resorted to brazen press control tactics. Lung Ying-tai had also been a recent contributor to Freezing Point, with an essay called “The Taiwan You May Not Know”. The Southern Metropolis Daily essay concerned graft allegations that have damaged the political fortunes of Kuomintang leader Ma Ying-jeou.
February 6 — The South China Morning Post reported that an essay written by a top Chinese religious affairs official and heavily critical of the U.S. war in Iraq was removed from domestic Chinese websites at the order of top officials. ESWN provided a translation of the essay. [Coverage from SCMP via ESWN].
February 6 — In more bad press for China’s news media, on the heels of international coverage of the Lan Chengzhang story and media corruption in China, the ongoing session of
the Guangdong provincial People’s Congress said the media bore partial responsibility for food safety concerns. A news report on Southcn.com quoted one official, Su Yixiang (苏宜香), as saying: “As for news reports on food safety, they must be scientific and show a strict professionalism, otherwise they will mislead consumers and affect the stability of society”. [Coverage from CMP].
February 7 — Responding to a flood of criticism of the role of the media, a top Guangdong propaganda official said media were an “indispensable” form of monitoring, but that there was also a need to “raise the character” of Chinese journalists. The comments from Hu Guohua (胡国华 ), Guangdong’s deputy propaganda minister, made particular reference to previous statements made by leaders in Guangdong blaming the media for worsening social trends there.
February 9 — According to the South China Morning Post, top Chinese propaganda leaders have established a “points-based penalty system” that will tighten the grip on Chinese news media in the run up to the sensitive 17th party Congress later in 2007. Citing “party sources”, the newspaper said media “will be allocated 12 points each and subject to closure if all their points are deducted.” [SCMP coverage via AsiaMedia].
February 9 — Arguing for greater official tolerance of the news media, China’s top safety inspection official said publicly that news media could not be expected to get their facts it 100% right, and that officials must not place arbitrary limitations on the press. Quoted in China Youth Daily newspaper, Li Yizhong (李毅中), minister of China’s General Administration of Work Safety (GAWS), angrily criticized the actions of local work safety officials in the city of Xinzhou (忻州), who allegedly accepted payments from state-run mines and used the money to purchase an office building and vehicles for the local office of work safety. While the Xinzhou
case formed the crux of Li Yizhong’s comments, the official also expressed his thanks to China Youth Daily for its breaking of the Xinzhou story in December 2006 and China Central Television and other media for their follow-up coverage.
February 10 — Beijing Olympic officials said China would raise quotas on domestic journalists covering the 2008 games, allowing for more print and broadcast journalists to be onsite covering the games. News reports said registration for print journalists covering the games would begin in March 2007.