An outspoken mainland magazine has published a memoir paying tribute to late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang in an apparent push to rehabilitate the name of the purged reformist leader. The article in the July issue of Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine - known for its outspoken articles by senior party officials and liberals - is seen as part of a drive by Zhao's supporters and party liberals for a reassessment of his pivotal role in the nation's development. Zhao was purged after sympathising with the students in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement and was kept under house arrest for nearly 16 years until his death in 2005. The party has since tried to obliterate any mention of him from the public domain. Yang Rudai, a former subordinate of Zhao's in Sichuan, praised Zhao in his article for his pioneering role in reviving agricultural and industrial production in the province as well as his role in the rehabilitation of people persecuted under the Gang of Four's rule there during the Cultural Revolution. Zhao was Sichuan's political leader between 1975 and 1980. Yang later followed in Zhao's footsteps to become Sichuan party secretary. Du Daozheng, the magazine's publisher and a former Zhao ally, said he believed the Chinese leadership was becoming more open and tolerant. It was against such a backdrop that his magazine decided to publish the memoir. '[The leadership] is on the whole tolerant of us and supports our work,' Du said. 'We have to be patient, but I believe China will follow the mainstream trend and become more democratic and tolerant in time.' He said the publication was timed to avoid sensitive dates such as the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. The memoir focused on Zhao's leadership in Sichuan before he became party general secretary. The article did not mention his role in the 1989 movement, as the subject remains taboo on the mainland, and mentioning the event would almost certainly lead to the magazine being punished. Unlike two years ago when the magazine came under pressure for articles that praised Zhao, Du said authorities had not complained about Yang's article this time. 'There are conservative and backward forces, but there are voices on the two sides, and there are democratic and pragmatic views, too, and they want to listen to the people,' he said. He said the fact that authorities had not put pressure on him after he published his memoir of Zhao in January was evidence that there were open-minded leaders. Du is the former chief of the General Administration of Press and Publications, one of the mainland's censors. He was one of four retired reform-minded officials who helped Zhao secretly record his memoirs before his death in 2005. Independent political analyst Chen Ziming said having Yang, a former Politburo member, praising Zhao in Yanhuang Chunqiu could only boost the magazine's political backing. 'Now there is one more person [from the political sphere] in support of Zhao,' Chen said. 'The [officials] from the Zhao era want to have an opportunity to express their feelings.' The magazine in 2008 published articles by former vice-premier Tian Jiyun and former Xinhua chief Sun Zhen in memory of Zhao. The articles angered the Propaganda Department but Du resisted pressure and stayed at his post.