| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

China withholds an article by former prime minister calling for freedom and justice


The former prime minister of China called for fairness, justice, humanity and freedom in an article recalling the period of the Cultural Revolution that the country’s ruling Communist Party is trying to forget.

According to CNN , the former Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, published an article in a mysterious newspaper in Macau, indicating that he had not obtained approval for publication in his country’s newspapers.

Under President Xi Jinping, former Chinese leaders used to keep their heads low, yet Wen’s words broke into Chinese social media, which re-published the article hundreds of thousands of times before the authorities intervened to prevent people from posting.

CNN indicated that the country’s second-highest official a decade ago could not escape China’s increasingly stringent oversight.

Wen Jiabao was prime minister of China from 2003 to 2013, when he was widely seen as a liberal and relatively reformist figure within the Chinese leadership.

In honor of his mother, who passed away in December, Wen’s article touched on how his father, a teacher, was persecuted during the political and social turmoil of the decade-long Cultural Revolution in China.

During that time, Wen’s father was placed under house arrest and subjected to brutal interrogation, reprimand and beatings. Wen wrote that after the severe beating, his father’s face was so swollen that it blinded him.

“In my opinion, China should be a country full of justice and equity,” Wen wrote. “There should always be respect for the will of the people, humanity and human nature.” There should always be youth, freedom and a spirit of struggle. ”

“Given the political climate, his speech (Wen Jiabao) in and of itself is an important act and an implicit criticism of Leader Xi,” said Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing.

It is not the first time that Wen has touched on reform issues. In a 2010 interview with CNN, Wen said that freedom of expression is “indispensable” and that the Chinese people’s desires for democracy and freedom are “irresistible.”

After the rapid spread, the Chinese authorities removed the video of the interview from the Chinese Internet.

Compared to those comments, Wen’s article this week was more moderate in tone, but the political climate has changed dramatically, with freedom of expression and any aspirations for democracy and freedom dealt a major blow under the reign of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has been leading the country since 2013.