Los Angeles 10/14/2010 6:59:53 PM
News / Politics

China: Debate Over Reform Met With Silence

Some of China's ex Communist Party officials have expressed their opinion on the debate over censorship and political reform, strongly condemning the Central Propaganda Department of their party as "an invisible black hand" that has the power to censor the country's prime minister and demanding an end to the state's control of national media outlets.

The outspoken condemnation, contained in an extensively-censored open letter that surfaced on Wednesday, came at a very sensitive moment, as the Chinese leadership is still struggling to find an answer to the selection of imprisoned pro-democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

News of Xiaobo's Nobel Prize has mostly been limited to official statements denouncing the judgment. Xiaobo's wife on Wednesday posted her angry reaction to being placed under house arrest on her Twitter profile, slamming the Chinese government and saying that she hopes to visit Norway and accept the Nobel Prize on her husband’s behalf.
The message comes from 23 retired party intellectuals and officials, and was motivated by the recent censorship of Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks regarding the need for political reforms in China. During a trip to Shenzhen city in August, Wen said, "Without the safeguard of political reform, the fruits of economic reform would be lost and the goal of modernization would not materialize".

His comments were not covered by the state controlled mainland media but were extensively reported in the media of Hong Kong.

Analysts make various meanings out of Wen's comments. Some believe that he issued these comments just to calm down foreign audiences, as he knew that people inside China will never get to find out about them. Others believe that Wen is attempting to cultivate a positive image, before he and President Hu Jintao hand over power to the new leadership in 2012.