Former premier Zhu Rongji criticised Hong Kong's media, describing them as being filled with insults, during a meeting with a Hong Kong delegation to the National People's Congress in March 2001, according to his book, which was published last week.
The four-volume work, Record of Zhu Rongji's Talks, is more than 2,000 pages and is published in Chinese only. It includes more than 300 articles of the retired leader's speeches, talks, letters and written instructions from 1991 to 2003, when he was vice-premier and premier.
Zhu, 82, was known to read several Hong Kong newspapers every day. He said that many of the articles hurled insults at him, while he found no such criticism in the mainland's censored media.
'Criticism can be sharp, and this is what press freedom means. But it is better that [you] are not harsh enough - do not hurl abuse and speak sarcastically,' he had said.
He said he laughed when he read that one article likened him to a godfather of the Cosa Nostra mafia in Italy. 'Do not let such inexplicable matters affect Hong Kong's stability,' he told the delegates.
As premier, Zhu asked his cabinet to serve the people truthfully, even if it meant offending some bureaucrats and others in power:
'If this government is full of [these types of people] who try not to offend anybody, we will have only done a disservice to the people.'