Princeling Hu Deping to head up embattled liberal magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu

Son of late leader Hu Yaobang to head up Yanhuang Chunqiu as publication mounts fightback to retain its editorial independence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 October, 2014, 5:46am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 October, 2014, 8:50pm

An embattled liberal magazine's hopes of survival have risen with the appointment of the son of former party general secretary Hu Yaobang as its new publisher.

The appointment of Hu Deping to oversee outspoken political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu was the publication's first step to fend off official moves to threaten its independence, outgoing publisher Du Daozheng said yesterday.

Du, 91, said that Lu De, son of late vice-premier Lu Dingyi would be the magazine's new deputy publisher and legal representative. Du would become an "honorary publisher".

Yanhuang Chunqiu is backed by retired senior officials and made a name for itself by carrying articles that contest Communist Party versions of contemporary history. It is affiliated with the Association for Yan Huang Culture of China, a social organisation with ties to the culture ministry, but was ordered last month to switch affiliation to a body directly under the ministry's administration, making it more vulnerable to censors.

"Hu and Lu will replace me to deal with the authorities over knotty issues about our magazine's future organisational changes," Du said.

"They will face many difficult dealings with the authorities, but our chance of succeeding is very high because of the magazine's hard-won prestige, strongly support among many retired senior officials as well as our 135,000-odd subscribers."

Du said he had been in poor health and the switch at the top followed extensive talks with editorial staff and retired officials.

"A consensus was finally reached: we should spare no effort to ensure our magazine survives," Du said. "Our goal is to keep our editorial independence. We don't want to be another political magazine like party mouthpiece Qiushi."

Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the magazine might try to use Hu and Lu's princeling background and connections to gain more "political living space".

"I am quite pessimistic about the magazine's future because I don't think Hu and Lu can replace Du, who has experienced countless political struggles and dared to take all political responsibility and risk for the magazine's survival," Zhang said.