High price for airing Sun Yat-sen criticism

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am
 

A magazine publisher has been demoted and a journalist suspended after the publication of an interview with a Taiwanese historian who accused 'Father of the Nation' Sun Yat-sen of trying to make deals with Japan and who criticised China for trying to stir up nationalist sentiment.

Chen Zhong, president of the prestigious Nanfengchuang (South Wind Window) magazine, a Guangzhou-based biweekly under the Guangzhou Daily newspaper group, was transferred to a less important position in the group on Monday.

Zhao Lingmin, who wrote the story, was suspended from her position as director of a team of journalists, a reporter at the magazine said.

The question-and-answer-style story featuring Professor Tang Chi-hua from National Chengchi University in Taiwan was headlined, 'The rising China must say goodbye to 'revolutionary diplomacy''. It was published on July 25.

The reporter said officials from the group's editorial committee had visited the magazine on Monday to announce the decisions on Chen and Zhao. The officials also criticised the story as 'anti-government and anti-Communist Party'. They said Tang's comments about Sun were defamatory since Sun was a 'true revolutionary pioneer'.

Tang was quoted in the article as saying that Sun, having failed to win the support of warlords, suggested to Japan that he was willing to cede China's sovereignty over Manchuria and Hainan Island in exchange for Japanese officers leading the National Revolutionary Army against the Beiyang warlord government in Beijing. Later, to get Japan to send an army to help him, Sun offered to cede control of policing and taxation, and of Beijing, Tianjin and Inner Mongolia, Tang said.

'Even Yuan Shikai didn't dare abandon these rights,' Tang said, referring to the second president of the Republic of China.

These weren't the only points the committee took issue with. There were three others:

First, Tang said the historical narratives of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang might not be factual, and that they sometimes put party interests ahead of the country.

Second, Tang said the Beiyang warlord government - a series of military regimes that ruled from Beijing from 1912 to 1928 - had been widely smeared. Third, he said the mainland must abandon 'revolutionary diplomacy', which required denouncing imperialist invaders and stirring up nationalist sentiment.

The reporter said the demotion was probably targeted committee had probably been looking for a way to punish the pair and the story offered them a pretext.

'Censorship has been tightened since last September, and the newspaper group has gradually taken over key positions at the magazine,' he said. 'As far as I know, many talented people have left the media industry.'

Former Peking University journalism professor Jiao Guobiao said what Tang had said was common knowledge and could be acquired from other sources. 'In my opinion, [what happened] is not just a result of publishing this story.'

Zhou Chenghua, deputy editor-in-chief of the Guangzhou Daily, will replace Chen as president.

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