I'm outstanding, says last chief of mainland's top print censor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 9:02am

Liu Binjie , the last head of the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) - the mainland's top print censor - is not shy about praising himself.

"To be objective, it's outstanding," Liu told Xinhua when asked to rate his performance as GAPP's director over the past five years.

GAPP will be merged with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television as part of a State Council revamp of central government agencies.

Amid much public criticism of the lengthy name for the new agency - the State General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television - a 14-character name in Chinese, Xinhua said on its microblog yesterday that the authorities had revised it to a 10-character name, with no official English version yet released.

Liu said he would focus on his new job as the head of Tsinghua University's school of journalism and communications after the merger received approval at the end of the annual session of the National People's Congress this week.

Liu, 64, replaced the hardline Long Xinmin as GAPP director after a public outcry over his predecessor's poor handling of a controversial ban on eight books by established mainland authors in 2007.

The Xinhua interview, published yesterday, said Liu had worked hard to cut red tape at GAPP, axing more than 100 licensing rules and leaving many decisions to the market.

As a result, revenues for mainland print media and publishing jumped from 300 billion yuan 10 years ago to 1.6 trillion yuan (HK$19.8 trillion) last year.

Xinhua also credited Liu with securing China's presence as the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009, which was hailed as a sign of China's rising soft power.

A former China Youth Daily editor, Li Datong , said Liu had adopted a less hardline approach to control of the press.

Liu's softer side was highlighted by a rare comment he made in 2010 about the book Big River, Big Sea - Untold Stories of 1949 by professor Lung Yingtai that is banned on the mainland.

Liu admitted having read the book, saying it contained many interesting details.

He told Xinhua that reform would help move things ahead.

"Wherever there's a reform, there will be a new outlook," he said.

 

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