Embattled political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu suffered another blow this week when it was forced to cancel its annual dinner for the first time in its 23-year history, prompting concerns the authorities are keeping up their pressure on the publication that has been a voice for party liberals. A statement initially posted on its microblog apologised to editorial board members and writers for the cancellation, saying the authorities had prohibited it from hosting the dinner. The statement said the magazine originally invited 240 supporters to attend the March 11 event, but its supervisory organisation, the Chinese National Academy of Arts, relayed a message from "the relevant authorities", suggesting it postpone the dinner until after the National People's Congress annual meeting, which ended last Sunday. It said the publication then postponed the dinner to March 18 and cut those invited to 130, but the restaurant then said it was barred from hosting the event. The magazine asked the academy to negotiate with the authorities to allow the dinner to go ahead, but its request was rejected on Tuesday, a day before the scheduled event. The statement appeared to have been deleted from the microblog on Thursday. Yang Jisheng, deputy publisher of the magazine, confirmed its contents, saying he was unclear which government department barred the event. Retired Central Party School professor Du Guang, 86, who writes for the publication, said he did not see how a gathering of party veterans would threaten state security or public order. Bao Tong, 82, a former top aide of late reformist leader Zhao Ziyang, said the incident showed the authorities' nervousness and made a mockery of top leaders' calls for rule of law. "They are even afraid of their elderly predecessors," he said. Yanhuang Chunqiu , known for its outspoken articles that contest official versions of party history, has for years been under pressure to soften its editorial stance. It managed to maintain a relatively liberal stance because of the support of many respected party elders. But in September, the authorities put it under the supervision of a body under the culture ministry - a move that rendered the magazine more vulnerable to censors.