The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, a branch of China’s main media regulator, recently announced a new crackdown on pornographic online content, a measure the Global Times notes is essential for China’s “cyber development.” But “Cleaning the Web 2014” has little to do with porn, and much to do with bolstering the Party’s new media influence.
In 2012, we partnered with Open Society Foundations to bring you a special issue we called Writers Bloc. Now we’re doing it again: this time, it’s Free Expression with the Open Society Foundations and Free Word Centre, as well as Article 19 and English PEN. We’re excited to share this new special issue with you.
In Writers Bloc, Zadie Smith wrote: “Writing is often called ‘news from elsewhere,’ and speaking about one world to another has always been one of the many aims of the writer.”
This year we’re proud to present more ‘news from elsewhere,’ whether that be close to home or across an ocean; behind closed doors or stirring up a storm on the streets. Read our special issue here.
For several Guernica contributors, the topic of free expression leads to a discussion of self-censorship in China, and of the fierce arguments that followed Mo Yan’s 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature win. Emily Parker speaks with novelist Yiyun Li about the Zhu Ling poisoning case, “self-censorship in China, the line between fact and fiction, and whether it’s possible to create good art under a repressive regime.” Meanwhile, Pankaj Mishra urges readers to approach Mo Yan with an open mind.
Guernica also talks to the author of the upcoming book “I am China,” Xiaolu Guo, about her frustration with the West’s fondness for Chinese dissident artists. The special issue also features 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest leader Hu Ping’s essay on freedom of speech, translated by Eric Abrahamsen with an introduction by Wuer Kaixi, as well as a feature by Emily Strasser on self-immolations in Tibet.
Let’s not forget that most writers in history have lived under nondemocratic regimes: Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Goethe didn’t actually enjoy constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech. And let’s not forget also, alas, that freedom of speech doesn’t guarantee great literature.
[..S]uppose we all ‘behave ourselves,’ self-censoring to print only what we think the mainland authorities approve of. Would that help appease them? Would they then allow Hong Kong publications entry to the mainland, with access to that huge market? The answer is definitely ‘No!’
Following delays in the processing of foreign journalists’ visas, Global Post interviews journalist Paul Mooney, whose China visa was recently rejected, and Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists about the government’s current stance on foreign media. Meanwhile, Chinese journalists shed light on a new credentialing process that emphasizes “Marxist journalism.”
You can ask all the questions you want and you wouldn’t get anywhere. The government spokesmen will go, ‘Blah blah blah,’ and after four paragraphs it practically just amounts to a ‘No comment.’
You can delete my words, you can delete my name but you cannot snatch the pen from my hand. In the years to come this pen of mine will fight a long war of resistance, and continue to write for as long as it takes for me to see the light of a new dawn.