Beijing censors join in silent tributes to zhao

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 January, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong's democrats were not the only ones observing a moment of silence; mainland censors were doing the same.

A French-Canadian friend of mine was stuck in a Guangzhou hotel watching CNN when Zhao Ziyang died. Whenever a report appeared on the US network about the late reformist leader, the screen would go blank and silent, then resume with other news.

'I have been in Guangzhou for 10 days since my passport was stolen. I am at the Holiday Inn,' he wrote in an e-mail.

'My routine is to watch CNN. Since yesterday, the screen goes dark and silent whenever CNN starts to report on the death of Zhao Ziyang. I have seen it happen four times so far. I guess the central authorities have not forgotten about him. A hotel employee I talked to at the business centre did not know that he had expressed sympathy for students in 1989.

'It's the first time I have seen censorship on TVs in an international hotel in China, though I can access the websites of Reuters and CNN and read about Zhao's death online.'

Censorship? Maybe it was just silent state tributes.