Yanhuang Chunqiu website closed down after editorial on constitution
Yanhuang Chunqiu informed its registration 'had been cancelled' after publishing editorial urging implementation of constitutional rights
Authorities yesterday closed down the website of the mainland's most outspoken political magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu, sparking fears that its call for political reform and constitutional governance has touched a raw nerve.
Chief editor Wu Si said the pro-reform publication received a text message and an e-mail from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on December 31 saying its registration "had been cancelled", without giving a reason.
Its website, www.yhcqw.com was shut down around 9am yesterday. The site carried a cartoon policeman holding up a badge and a message saying it had been shut down "for not registering".
Calls to the ministry went unanswered yesterday, but it issued a written response to Caixin Media saying Yanhuang Chunqiu failed to renew its registration information and the website could be reopened after an update is filed.
The website's editor told Caixin it found out only yesterday from the Beijing Communications Administration that its registration had been invalid since August 2010.
The editorial of Yanhuang Chunqui's New Year edition called for initiatives to "protect the constitution" and urged government action to grant citizens the rights to which they are constitutionally entitled. It said the constitution's guarantees such as the right to dismiss national leaders and officials, the protection of human rights, and freedom of speech and publication had not been implemented.
"Comparing the constitution and the everyday reality, you will find our current system, policies, laws and the way the government behaves is far away from the constitution," it said. "Our constitution is basically meaningless.
"In the new year and under the new leadership … we most earnestly hope that there will be concrete action in implementing the constitution."
The editorial echoed the rhetoric of new Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping last month, when he said that without implementation, the constitution would be "just a piece of paper".
Du Daozheng , the 89-year-old publisher of Yanhuang Chunqiu, said the closure of the website was contrary to the spirit of that remark and he did not believe the order came from Xi. The magazine's office displays a calligraphic scroll written by Xi's late father, Xi Zhongxun , praising the publication.
"Xi [Jinping] kept stressing the importance of the constitution," Du said. "I don't believe this [closure] has anything to do with the new leadership."
The authorities also issued a warning to the magazine over an article in its December issue that mentioned late reformist leader Zhao Ziyang , its staff said.
Yanhuang Chunqiu, which often carries articles by retired officials that contest party versions of contemporary history, has come under pressure to tone down its relatively liberal content.
The authorities have tried many times to press Du, a liberal party veteran and a former government censor, to step down. Last year, he accused officials of trying to use a reform initiative to weaken the editorial independence of his publication.
Deputy publisher Yang Jisheng said that if the New Year editorial had led to the closure of the website, it would be to the magazine's credit. "If the magazine has sacrificed itself for the sake of the constitution, then it would be an honour," he said.