February 12 — Chinese lawyers circulated an open letter on the Internet protesting the deletion of their comments posted on personal Weblogs. [Complete translation available at ESWN].
February 14 — Chinese media turned again to the issue of free speech after reports that renowned sexologist Li Yinhe alleged on her Weblog that she had been pressured by officials to “shut up” and avoid contact with the media. In a February 8 posting on her personal blog, Li Yinhe, a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), wrote that leaders were pressuring her to “shut up”. In the near future, she said, she would “accept fewer interviews with reporters” and “make fewer comments about sex”. “Right now”, Li wrote, “I am faced with this decision: I am under pressure from officials ‘who are not ordinary people’. [They say] they hope I will keep my mouth shut”. A commentary in Southern Metropolis Daily, and excerpted in other papers, said the silencing of Li Yinhe posed a threat to the speech freedoms of all those who criticized her views, not to mention those who supported them. [Coverage from CMP].
February 15 — An editorial in Dahe Daily, a commercial newspaper in Henan Province, praised a speech by a top Guangdong propaganda official, who said on February 8 that propaganda officials would have to move away from a model of arbitrary censorship bowing to demands from local party officials. Dahe Daily said “smearing the media has become a tool” used by officials use to stave off monitoring from the press.
GAPP official: China’s Web economy will surpass Western countries due to cultural uniqueness
February 16 — A top official from China’s official agency in charge of press and publishing suggested in an interview with the overseas edition of China’s official People’s Daily that China’s unique cultural character made it particularly suited to the development of a Web-based economy, and that he expected the country’s Web economy to surpass that of many Western countries.
February 16 — Kou Shaowei (寇晓伟), a top official in China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) in charge of audiovisual content and Web publishing, said China’s Web-based economy would surpass those of Western countries because of China’s unique cultural characteristics. China’s Web economy was growing rapidly, said Kou, particularly in the areas of SMS messaging and online games. China’s online game industry was worth 6.5 billion yuan (US$830 million) in 2006, he said, up 73.5 percent on the previous year and substantially surpassing estimates. Resorting to broad cultural generalizations (China versus “the West”) rather than demographic or market research data, the deputy minister said that when “compared with countries in the West, China’s situation is rather particular”. “When assessing the development of China’s Web, we cannot use viewpoints inherent to the West. I believe China’s Web-based economy will surpass those of many Western countries in both scale and speed”, Kou said.
February 16 — Urban myth cooked up by attention-seeking commercial media or news story in the public interest? … Law enforcement authorities in Guangzhou said at a press conference that a “thorough investigation” had found no evidence to support rumors that criminals might be using an anesthetic solution, or “daze drug”, to disarm victims in the city. Nevertheless, Guangzhou media persisted in reporting the “daze drug” story, and it continued to gain national attention through popular Web portals like Sina.com.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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