Declaration of the Campaign against The Central Propaganda Department (討伐中宣部)
[Original Chinese-language article appeared in ObserveChina.com; commentaries can be found here]
What is the bottleneck in the cultural development of Chinese society? It is the Central Propaganda Department (and the entire propaganda system). What is the stumbling block in the cultural development of Chinese society? It is the Central Propaganda Department. Which is the largest and most powerful protective umbrella for the forces of evil and corruption in China? It is the Central Propaganda Department. Why do I say that? Everybody knows that China does not have too much freedom of the press; it is has too little. And who is trying to impose even more limits on the very little freedom of press? It is the Central Propaganda Department. Freedom of press is a measure of the development of civilization. Western philosophers have said that they can do without government, but they cannot do without the freedom of press. The Central Propaganda Department treats freedom of press as the enemy, and does not even permit the words "freedom of press" to be used freely. This is an obvious infringement on this most basic measure of civilization. The Central Propaganda Department has become the bastion to defend the most reactionary forces, allowing them to abuse power and practice corruption at the cost of ruining the images of the party and the government as well as damaging the civil development of the nation. If they are permitted to continue to ignore the law and to abuse their power, they will not only cause eternal damnation for themselves but they would also hamper the reform process, delay the development of political culture and to put the millions of intellectuals in China into shame. Therefore, we must rise up and criticize the Central Propaganda Department.
1. What is it about the Central Propaganda Department? The Central Propaganda Department has fourteen kinds of illnesses.
The first illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that they operate like superstitious old ladies and men who follow ritualistic behavior. Many people have seen Zhao Shuli's "Xiao Erhei gets married". The Central Propaganda Department operates just like Xiao Erhei's father Er Zhuge and Xiao Jing's mother San Xiangu. According to these two know-it-all's, one is not supposed to "plant seeds" today, nor to "travel" tomorrow, nor to "get married" the day after and so on. Is that not the same behavior that the Central Propaganda Department practices when it comes to controlling the news media? Today, you can't mention "Jiang Yanyong", tomorrow you can't reflect on SARS, the day after tomorrow there will be some new taboo to bar you from saying that the media are "social instruments", for example. What is the origin of all these bans? What are their bases? Are they any more 'scientific' than the "conclusions" coming from Liu Xiude or San Xiangu? All their bans have no basis, and are contrary to any civilized standards that are founded upon logical and basic humanistic values. In fact, they belong to the same class as traditional superstition.
The second illness of the Central Propaganda Department is the Vaticanization of their power. The Central Propaganda Department is as powerful and self-righteous as the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages in Europe. Anyone who touches them will get burned. They are just like the exotic snake of Yungzhou described by Liu Zhongyuan -- when the snake touches grass, the grass dies; when the snake bites a person, the person dies. We cannot accept that the Central Propaganda Department is always correct like the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, we cannot accept that the Central Propaganda Department is as holy as the cardinals, and we cannot accept that the Central Propaganda Department is more potent than the exotic snake of Yungzhou. The Central Propaganda Department is watching the news media, but who is watching the Central Propaganda Department? "If the Emperor of Hell wants you to die at three o'clock in the morning, who would dare let you live until five o'clock?" The Central Propaganda Department has disciplined many reporters and editors, but nobody dares to speak up. Could the Central Propaganda Department be always correct? In other government departments, there are still different degrees by which they obey rules and regulations. Only the Central Propaganda Department has no rules or regulations. They behave just like the superstitious people who can say something that is against even the most basic human civic values but those words have the effect as if they were perfect. The Central Propaganda Department is the only dead spot in China that does not operate by rules and regulations; it is a dark empire in which the rays of law do not shine. The Central Propaganda Department is the last black box of the People's Republic of China. We cannot permit it to continue to exist peacefully with all those powers.
The third illness of the Central Propaganda Department is the emulation of the Japanese Education Department. The Japanese Education Department has repeatedly revised its school textbooks to change the history of Japanese invasion of China, replacing the word "invasion" with "entry." The Central Propaganda Department is even worse, because it does not allow historical errors to be mentioned. The Anti-Rightist campaign, the Cultural Revolution, the death of tens of millions of peasants from famine, June Fourth, the BMW case in Harbin, et cetera, are all taboo topics. All this has make it unbearable for people in the media and academia, and it is extremely disappointing to the people at large.
The fourth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is the assassination of the constitution. The freedom of public speech is a guaranteed right of the constitution of the People's Republic of China. Logically, the Central Propaganda Department is the Propaganda Department of the People's Republic of China and it should therefore protect the freedom of public speech. In practice, it is the worst infringer and the spiritual butcher of the freedom of speech that is guaranteed by the constitution. The constitution was created by the government, but here is a government department that does not try to protect it and instead does everything possible to trash it. This must be a rare phenomenon in the world today. To protect the constitution, it is necessary to criticize the Central Propaganda Department.
The fifth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is the betrayal of the high ideals of the Chinese Communist Party, thus becoming a traitor to the CCP by its actions. The period of the 1940s saw the struggle against the Kuomintang (Nationalists), and that was the most glorious time for the Chinese Communist Party. Some people have attempted to republish the opinion editorials and other articles from Chongqing's "Xinhua Daily" and Yenan's "Liberation Daily" but that was squashed by the Central Propaganda Department. Those articles advocated democracy and freedom of speech, and were the best and most representative of the cultural progress of China at the time, but they have been banned by the Central Propaganda Department. This goes to show that the Central Propaganda Department has become an enemy of the original ideals of the Communist Party. Every true Communist Party member should rise up and not permit the Central Propaganda Department to ruin the party and the nation.
The sixth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it is the inheritor of the Cold War. Anything that the Central Propaganda Department touches about the United States is always hostile. "Anything that the enemy opposes, we will support. Anything that the enemy supports, we will oppose." This is still the guideline of the Central Propaganda Department with respect to international propaganda and the guideline for western news reports. At a certain publishing company, a proposed project was titled, "How Americans run their country." When the editor-in-chief saw the title, he panicked and asked, "What do you mean?" What he meant was that it is not allowed to praise the American political system. The Central Propaganda Department has always said so. But the American political system is the way of progress, and when you say that it is a pile of dogshit, you are actually moving towards the real pile of dogshit or in fact you are actually eat from it. Let's get real, Central Propaganda Department! Let's recover your sense of smell and call everything by their proper natures, or else you will go down in disrepute and become a shameful name in history. Since you already have a bad reputation for so long, you should quickly cease before you fall over the cliff.
The seventh illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it is the obstructionist of the spirit of the Central Government. According to the media, especially those who have to go to the Central Propaganda Department to listen to instructions: when you listen to the leadership of the Central Government, everything is bright and hopeful in China. When you listen to the Central Propaganda Department, you feel that there are dark clouds and evil actors everywhere in China, which is completely opposite to the spirit of the Central Government. The number one subversive, the number one opponent, the number one naysayer, the number one obstructionist --- it is not Taiwan, it is not Hong Kong, it is not corrupt officials, it is not overseas pro-democracy elements, it is not American imperialism, it is not Falun Gong, it is not the families of the June 4 victims, it is the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party. At a moment like this, you have to wonder what day is today, whose Central Propaganda Department is this, whose orders does this department follow, and whether this is a bright or dark day. As I pen this, this happens to be the time of the congresses of 2004 and this should be the time when the media becomes most active and the political discussion among the people should be most free. Instead, the media have been forced by the Central Propaganda Department to be void of any excitement. The issues raised at the congresses, such as the revision of the constitution and the problem of evictions were not permitted to be discussed in the media. This is completely going against the work of the Central Government.
The eighth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it is callous and feeble-minded. I was speaking on the telephone with a friend who works at a magazine, and we happened to talk about the collection of articles about petitions (信訪) that appeared in a recent issue of his magazine. I happened to have read those articles too. He said, "This collection of articles had some impact. Even the Central Propaganda Department called us to say that this was the biggest coverage so far about petition." I responded: "This is far from adequate! There should have been a special issue on the subject. What is this magazine issue of yours? It is like taking a tourist trip of petitioning, and treating the problems of the petitioners as vistas. This is like scratching a foot itch from the outside of the shoe. It is too light-weighted. You ought to pursue the path to assist the government to actually solve the problems of petitioning. It is necessary to have your feet on solid ground, as opposed to just giving a fleeting snapshot. It is necessary to get to the root of the matter and to use the power of the media to eliminate the various ills that are currently associated with the petitioning process. Some time ago, I published an open letter to Premier Wen on the Internet and I advised this government to devote one-third of its efforts to solve those problems that lower the collective welfare index of the people. Wealth is important, but wealth is not equivalent to happiness. When the human condition is not fit for the people, this is against the purpose of the government and damaging to the nation. The petitioning process is a sore point, and it is the number one problem of social welfare. I hope Premier Wen read that letter. The existence of the petition process is an unforgivable sin, and we actually permit this to exist for decades! This should really be on our conscience!"
After hearing my words, the friend said, "The Central Propaganda Department did not call to encourage us. They called to berate us because this was affecting the stability of society." I got quite angry: "Idiots! They are mentally retarded! So what if every single petitioner is a bomb that will go off? As far as the 1.3 billion Chinese people goes, this is still a very small number. How can they affect the stability of society? Besides, nine out of ten petitioners are reasonable people. The truly violent ones don't even petition. The fact that the petitions were allowed to go on for such a long time is the real problem. The Propaganda Department's admonishments merely cause the petition problem to remain unsolved at the root. If the media were allowed to follow up, as opposed to being cold-bloodedly and feeble-mindedly suppressed, the whole petition phenomenon would have f**king disappeared eight hundred years ago!"
I am more reserved when I write, but I can really curse like a bitchy woman or street thug when I speak on the phone. I was extremely angry! How is a news report going to affect social stability? Refusing to report on these issues is what will lead to social instability. Faced with one after another tragic petition story, they are totally unmoved and instead they admonish the media for saying too much. This is stone-hearted! Too stupid, too callous, too disgusting! With this sort of mentality and cold-heartedness in charge of this critical post, no wonder that it is hurting our people and our China!
During the period of the SARS outbreak, the Health Ministry held a meeting to discuss how to disclose the truth about SARS. Some Health Ministry officials were concerned that the revelation of the whole truth would cause panic. I was very angry and said, "All of you present here know the truth, right? But we are all doing fine as none of us have hung ourselves or jump out of a window, isn't that so? You don't think that we are better than the common folks! So let's notify the media and do a press conference to tell the truth to the people." The Health Ministry leadership actually listened to the advice and disclosed the state of the epidemic on the next day. This was the 'truth' that we saw on April 20th when Minister Zhang Wenkang declared on television that China was quite safe for travelers. What is the point of my digression here? It is to illustrate that some government officials are more lazy and callous than others. They don't own any sign of scientific thinking and they just follow their feeble-minded instincts and make stupid decisions. They claim that they are considering the good of society and that they are striving for social stability, when in fact they are guilty of hurting the people and the country!"
The ninth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is the protection of bad and corrupt people. A while ago, the various media received the twenty-five Don'ts from the Central Propaganda Department. One of the Don'ts is to ban all news media from reporting on the fact that the Propaganda Department Head of Yunnan Province has been subjected to the double 'discipline' (from the government and the party). Why was it not permitted to discuss this matter? Because it would affect the reputation of the Propaganda Department negatively. This is an evil reason! The Propaganda Department is not exempt from oversight. When you banned the reporting of the disciplining of the Propaganda Department Head of Yunnan Province, whose interest are you serving? You are serving the interests of those who are 'disciplined.' This Don't command caused sorrow among the reporters and elation among the corrupt elements, and this is not the proper function of any propaganda department. This is absolute lawlessness! I ask any righteous person whether this should be tolerated? The Central Propaganda Department has squashed numerous news reports. If each such news report is about little people being oppressed, then banning the report is to perpetuate the oppression of little people while acting as the accessory to the evil people.
The tenth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is to eat their own while placating the outside world. The news media are tightly controlled by the Central Propaganda Department. If you are going to supervise them, then you have the responsibility of looking after them. When reporters are attacked time and again, we never see the Central Propaganda Department stand up on their behalf. You have all sorts of ways of punishing reporters. But when the reporters ask you to stand up on their behalf, you are like a turtle retracting its head inside the shell and you don't even fart once!
The eleventh illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it looks noble in spirit, but it is actually the slave to money. When they tell the media to cease and desist in their supervisory role, they give the seemingly fair reason of "Stability trumps everything else". Actually, most of the time, it is about the trading of power for money. They are taking the money from the evil people in exchange for the power vested in them by the government and the party. According to some media workers at the large websites and major newspapers, the Central Propaganda Department often instructs them to do advertising for certain cultural products in the name of propaganda. Thus, the media waived the advertisement fee even though the advertisers are still paying for the space. Where did the money go? It went into the pockets of the people who call the shots. According to reliable sources, the Putuo District of Ningbo City paid 800,000 yuan to ask the Central Propaganda Department to stop a CCTV special feature. In Tientsin, the principal in a public health matter also paid several hundred thousand yuan to kill off a CCTV report. Thus, killing off a report is actually protecting certain evil elements, thus perpetuating a particular evil. This is trading the image of the government and the party for some illegal profit. Recently, the Central Propaganda Department closed down the discussion of the BMW case. Why? Why? Why!? Were they paid off by the principal? We cannot help but raise the question.
The twelfth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that they are jealous of the virtuous and the righteous. They will clamp down on anyone who dares to speak up. They will bury alive anyone whose shows a sense of righteousness. Right now, there cannot be any best-selling book in China. Any books that sells well will be quickly met by the Central Propaganda Department to "put out the fire." Their reason may seem fair, but the motivation is foul. To kill off a creative bestseller is to strangle the creativity of the Chinese people. To bring down a righteous reporter, scholar or newspaper is to suppress the sense of righteousness in China. To the extent that China is experiencing the drying up of creativity, the corruption of morals, the disappearance of righteousness and the rise of evil forces, the Central Propaganda Department must bear 99% of the responsibility. It is the Central Propaganda Department which has ruined political and social ethics in China.
The thirteenth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it is the secondary creator of the severe problems encountered by the weaker social groups in China. The problem of unpaid wages has persisted for many years. Why is it up to Premier Wen now to deal with it? Because the Central Propaganda Department did not permit the media to report on this issue. If the problem of unpaid wages does not enter into the view of the people, how can it be solved? Why have petitions gone on for so many years? Why do multiple generations of the same family have to keep petitioning the same issue? The Central Propaganda Department has been covering up for numerous criminals. There have also been many tragic stories about family planning, but they happen again and again because the media cannot report on them. The evil ones are not afraid of officials, they are only afraid of being reported in the news. The news media could have solved 10,000 problems and prevented 10,000 disasters. But due to the backwardness and heavy-handedness of the Central Propaganda Department, 9,999 of these reporters were suppressed. The Central Propaganda Department is the secondary creator and accessory to the disasters visited on the weaker groups in China.
The fourteenth illness of the Central Propaganda Department is that it is the butcher of the sense of fairness, justice and civility. Every time the media leaders come back from more Central Propaganda Department lectures, they complain that it was like going back in time in that meeting room. That standard drill from the Central Propaganda Department runs contrary to the current trend. Although the media leaders look as if they came back in one piece, they have actually suffered inside. Their sense of fairness, justice and civility have been deeply injured. To hurt one's feelings about fairness is the deepest hurt of all, to trash one's sense of justice is the cruelest hurt of all.
2. How to rescue the Central Propaganda Department? The first and second option to rescue the Central Propaganda Department
The first option is to eliminate all propaganda departments. Does the United States have a propaganda department? Does England have one? Does Europe have one? They don't. Who had a propaganda department? There was a famous propaganda chief, and he is Dr. Goebbels. He is the inventor of "When a lie is repeated one thousand times, it comes the truth." The propaganda department of the Kuomintang when Chiang Kai-Shek rule the mainland has its core anti-Marxist message that the Communists advocated "sharing the wealth and the women" and labeling the Zhu-Mao army as "communist bandits." The idea of a propaganda department is basically against the historical materialism of Karl Marx. Their core duty is to create something good out of nothing and to make the bad things go away. Good things get magnified, and bad things are shrunk. Black becomes white, white becomes black. Up is down, down is up. There is no such thing as objectivity. It is totally contrary to the spirit of pragmatism. Propaganda itself is evil work, it is a disaster, it is a way of alienating the government from its people. The fact that China does not have a good international image is the responsibility of the Central Propaganda Department, whose work philosophy and methods are inconsistent with contemporary civilization.
The second option is to create a "Manual of Propaganda Methods" and then everything has to be done by the book. No more procedures based upon unfounded beliefs that resemble superstitions. They are permitted to operate under the current model, but there must be oversight in order to ensure the Central Propaganda Department no longer works like the Roman Catholic Church. There are four specific methods. Method 1, set up a special investigation area in order to assess the rights and wrongs of the Central Propaganda Department in the past. To see which things the Central Propaganda Department did right or did wrong, to see what each Department head did good or bad. Let the good be praised and the bad be cursed. We can work backwards in time, from the current leaders Liu Qingwen and Ji Bingxuan and backwards in time.
The second method is to make sure that the Central Propaganda Department keep a daily log to list all its activities. For each day, there is a list of imposed bans and a list of warnings. Everything must be recorded for inspection, so that it is possible to determine responsibility at some future moment in time. The present process is most typically communicated over the telephone, and is designed to evade responsibility and the verdict of history. When something bad happens now, the Central Propaganda Department calls and orders no reporting to be done. Investigators need to be particularly alert about these types of situations, and to see if there is anything else behind the "stability above all else' claim. Was there any trade of power for money? What was the reason for volunteering to help bad people cover up their bad deeds? Mr Lu Xun said, "I don't mind looking at a Chinese person by assuming the worst about him." What reason do we have in not assuming the worst about the "stop order" phone call coming from the Central Propaganda Department? How much did you take from the bad guy to make that "stop order" telephone call? If you confess, the punishment will be lightened; if you insist on denying, the punishment will be severe; so speak the truth now!
The third method is to set up a system of accountability for propaganda work. For even a minor piece of construction work, there is a system of accountability. If propaganda work goes awry, the damage is much more severe than the minor piece of construction work, so there should be a system of accountability. To put it simply, the formation of consciousness is much more important than a minor piece of construction work and cannot be ignored. In the past, the Central Propaganda Department had initiated all those anti-something-or-the-other campaigns. Today, they are just jokes and scandals, but how come nobody is being held accountable?
The fourth method is to increase the transparency of the work of the Central Propaganda Department. The media can publish all the bans by the Central Propaganda Department anytime. The Central Propaganda Department has the responsibility of letting the people evaluate which of the edicts of the Central Propaganda Department are proper or improper, good or bad. When the media chiefs hear something from the Central Propaganda Department that they feel is contrary to civilized commonsense, they ought to publish it. Evil deeds fear transparency. The unreasonableness of the Central Propaganda Department so far has been heard by the media chiefs in communications that are deemed to be irrational, uncivilized and even reactionary and then only disclosed 'in confidence' to others. Sometimes, the lectures from the Central Propaganda Department are conducted in thuggish tones, filled with callous thoughts and manipulative desires. The Chinese media sector is a vast system, but its contribution to social progress and welfare has been limited severely because the Central Propaganda Department has managed to cause things to go backwards through its news control. This is saddening! This is maddening!
3. The Central Propaganda Department is able to achieve these powers on account of the histories of Wang Min, Kang Xin and Zhang Chunqiao. Its ultra-leftist roots have not been purged. For many years, the newspaper circle uses the phrase: "Based upon reasons that are well-known to everyone, a certain report was killed off." What are these "reasons that are well-known to everyone"? This would be because the Central Propaganda Department interfered. To say that something was not reported due to "reasons that are well-known to everyone" is an absurdity; it is stupid, perhaps even reactionary, but it cannot be overturned. This means that the Central Propaganda Department has the right to say black is white and white is black, that it can disrespect public opinion, that it can say up is down and down is up, that it can change the rules of game at any time, that it can trample common civilized ways. This is absurd as everyone knows but it is so powerful and untouchable such that several hundred thousand news workers and several million intellectuals cannot say anything against it. This is the shame of the Chinese moral character! People in the news industry say, "The authority of the Central Propaganda Department is only as thick as a piece of window paper, but nobody wants to poke it open." Why won't anyone poke it open? Because they are afraid. Why are they afraid? Because it is too powerful, it does not reason and it obeys no law. So the good person does not fight the tough bully. If he hurts you, you have no recourse because even the courts are afraid of him and will not accept any complaints. This is simply going to encourage bad behavior from the Propaganda Department to continue its various devices that are contrary to civil norms. The Propaganda Department is like a dark cloud hanging over the head of the Chinese news industry. It is contemptuous of all the rights and wrongs in civil society, it is the worst eroder of popular opinion about the government and the party, it is the worst eroder of support for the legality of the government and the party and it is the secondary causal agent of disasters visited upon the needy groups in China.
Why is the Central Propaganda Department so vicious? First of all, this is the historical legacy of the ultra-leftist past. From Wang Min, Kang Xin, Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao up to now, the Central Propaganda Department has always been spared any scrutiny both morally and politically. It may have done something which proves to be wrong afterwards, it may have encouraged the wrong things and it may have changed leadership, but its position has never changed. One, it does not need to reflect; two, it does not need to regret; three, it does not need to accept responsibility. During the Anti-Rightist period, during the Cultural Revolution and all the other anti-something-or-the-other campaigns, the Central Propaganda Department was always hotter than hot iron and deadlier than the exotic snake, but nobody asks it to recapitulate its mistakes. The political lines may change and the leadership may change, but the redness and the poison of the Central Propaganda Department never changes. The Central Propaganda Department has never been purged. Its roles has not been altered, its thought processes and operational procedures are untouched. Its ultra-leftism and extremism are unchanged. It is necessary to go over the historical mistakes of the Central Propaganda Department just like Wang Min, Kang Xin, Yao Wenyuan and Zhang Chunqiao have been criticized. Secondly, this is a system that has inherited its consciousness from the past. It is still fixated with the international Cold War mentality. The Chinese media say that the United States is holding on to the Cold War without letting go, but it is the Central Propaganda Department that is the true loyal widow of the Cold War. Thirdly, the Central Propaganda Department regards the 9.6 million square kilometers area of China as its own private domain and deprives the right to speak for anyone of whom it does not approve. China belongs to each and every Chinese person. It is the homeland of all persons of Chinese descent and we all share the equal right to inhabit this piece of earth that was developed by our common ancestors and we all have the equal rights to live freely, express freely and speak freely. Even if I don't like the People's Republic of China, I have the right to live here without going prison or into exile, because this is my inheritance. Your Central Propaganda Department head's great grandfather was a farmer on this earth, but so was the great grandfather of the political exile. The great grandchildren of these great grand-fathers are equal, and should be able to sit at the same table to discuss national politics. But the Central Propaganda Department will not permit you to read this, say this or discuss that. Fourthly, I have fourteen reasons about why I am calling out to campaign against the Central Propaganda Department:
First reason, Chairman Mao has given me the courage to be afraid of nothing. "All reactionaries are paper tigers. When you look at them, they look really mean. Actually, they don't have much strength. From the long-term perspective, the truly powerful force does not belong to the reactionary forces. It belongs to the people." Within the news sector, people have begun to refer in private to the Central Propaganda Department as the "reactionary force" in China. The term "reactionary force" has political overtones and historical connotations. Although I would prefer not to use this term, it is hard to use any other term given the types of behaviors that the Central Propaganda Department is engaged in. The reactionary nature of the Central Propaganda Department is "well-known to everyone", and it is of an overt and unambiguous reactionary nature.
Second reason, this is my constitutional right. The People's Republic of China should not have a tiger's ass, it should not have any sacred object that is above and beyond questioning, and it should not have saints like the cardinals of the Middle Ages in Europe.
Third reason, I am smarter and more civilized than the Central Propaganda Department. I look at the work done by the Central Propaganda Department from the top to the bottom, and I see a stupid and arrogant person who stubbornly walks towards the middle of a lightly frozen deep lake. It is like a street bully that nobody dares to tell to stop. I am unable to hold back and I must tell him to stop. Their actions are irrational and do not benefit anyone. They believe that they are the loyal guardsmen who are defending the country on behalf of the government and the party. I see them as doing wrong by the government and the party. Every single "Don't" that they issue does not stand up to scrutiny; they are all the crystallization of idiocies that damage the government and the party. The best example is when they say that a piece of reporting will "affect stability." Will it really affect stability? By how much will it affect stability? How will it be affecting stability? Have they investigated it? Have they researched it? How did they come to this conclusion? There is no hint of science, just stupidity! Just laziness! Just callousness!
Fourth reason, I cannot stand the way that they have trampled upon civilized commonsense. They will not permit the media to use the term "citizen" (公民). Only the term "common people" (老百姓) is allowed. They will not permit the words for "democracy" and "freedom" to appear in the media. Those two words can appear in the Constitution and they appear in the Sixteen Big Reports, but common folks cannot use it. This is obviously treating the concepts of "democracy" and "freedom" as purely decorative. What kind of question is this? They are the enemy of humankind, the enemy of civilization, the enemy of democracy, the enemy of liberty! This is the antagonistic conflict between enemies! This is an infringement of the most basic professional tenet of 1.6 million news workers, this is an insult and an injury to the most basic cultural attitude of several million intellectuals. This type of behavior goes against the most basic precept of media culture and political culture. This proves that they are not defending the government and the party, they are not implementing the "three representations". Rather they are representatives of backward culture, and they represent corrupt and defunct cultural downfall.
Fifth reason, I take pity. I cannot stand to see the Central Propaganda Department destroy itself, and I cannot stand to see them destroy the last surviving breath of spirit left in China. I must act like the Buddhist master and yell out the Zen cry: "Behave yourselves! Don't go down that way!"
Sixth reason, all other departments can be subjected to criticism by the media. Even the work of the Party Secretary and the Premier can be "criticized." But how come the Central Propaganda Department cannot be "criticized"? The Justice Department, the Public Safety Bureau, the Railroad Department, the Labor Department and the Social Protection Department and their department heads have been challenged and criticized by the media. In particular, the Railroad Department is hounded each year by the people, saying that ticket price increases during the Spring holidays were appalling ways of making profits on the back of the Chinese New Year. Each time, the Central Propaganda Department issued a "Don't" order to the media. Thus, the news media experienced once again the tormented disappointment and they are reduced to complaining on the sideline. Yet why isn't anyone asking, "Is your ban appropriate? On what basis do you issue a ban?" They are working against the popular will, yet they are so powerful. Why? Why is the Central Propaganda Department the cat and the news media the mouse? Who gave the Central Propaganda Department the waiver from oversight and criticism?
Seventh reason, the Assistant Head of the Central Propaganda Department Ji Bingxuan is from Henan province. Near the end of 2003, he issues a series of 25 Don'ts, the news industry workers joked that "People from Henan like to play games!" A person in a high position within the news industry said, "When the current Central Propaganda Department leadership first came in during the spring, it was the time of SARS so they were always very courteous to the editors at the communications meeting. Now they are bullies who are tough and rough. They don't see you and they treat the meeting attendees as if they were idiots. Historically, natural disasters have hit Henan province the hardest. In 1942, more than 1 million died from starvation in Henan. Twenty years later in 1962, even more people died from starvation because the administrators were horrible. The adminstrators were mostly loyal to the leaders. But they end up following the devil's path instead of following the leaders. The leaders have their own concerns, and they think you are following them but you have actually followed the devil. So you draw farther and farther away until you have become an enemy of the civilization. I do not believe the 25 "Don'ts" came personally from Chairman Hu. I believe that they were completely concocted by the Central Propaganda Department. "If you are going to employ someone, you should trust them; if you don't trust someone, you shouldn't be using them." "Let the comrades act flexibly in accordance with to what they can observe." Thus, the leaders of the Central Propaganda Department have turned the trust of the central leadership into all harm and no benefits. There is an old saying, "Watch out for fires, watch out for thieves, watch out for people from Henan." This is heartbreaking. We cannot let the entire environment of discourse for the entire country be turned into Henan style.
Eighth reason, this is about my own literary style. Liang Qichiao extended contemporary reporting to the extreme, Hu Shi extended the plain style, Hsu Zimo introduced new poetry, Lu Xun extended the essay, Li Ao, Pei Yang, Wang Yi, Confucius, Mencius, Cao Xueqin, the eight famous writers of the Tang and Song dynasties are all the tops of their fields. Each one of them contributed significantly to the Han language and they each made indelible contributions to the Han tribe. I hope that I will develop this particular fearless style of language to contribute my share to the Han language and the Han tribe. An intellectual has no earthly possessions to contribute to the country except that the pen in hand is as powerful as a knife.
Ninth reason, the encouragement of my predecessors. Three hundred and sixty years ago, Newton wrote "On the Freedom to Publish", one hundred and fifty years ago Karl Marx wrote "Comments on the Latest Prussian Censorship", 1500 years ago Luo Bingwang wrote "The Declaration to Fight Against Wu Zhao", Nietzsche said "God is Dead!", Jiang Taiyin denounced Emperor Kuangshu as a "little clown", Liang Chiqiao denounced Yuan Xikai as "that strange national problem", the May 4 progressives cried out, "Down with the Confucius shop!", Zhang Guiluan criticized Chiang Kai-Shek's views of life, Kuo Muyu asked people to "Look at today's Chiang Kai-Shek", Fu Shinian wrote the essay "This Song Tsewen must leave" to attack the 'royal' brother-in-law', ... , there are too many predecessors to be enumerated. Comapred to them, what is my little cry to say that "this Ji Bingxuan must go" or "Criticize the Central Propaganda Department!"? This is just small fries. Besides, outside this country, the news media always say that if a president fails in his job, he must quit. If a minister has bad results, he too must leave. I don't believe that a Chinese person who criticizes the Central Propaganda Department would get the death sentence for treason. If you don't to become a general, you shouldn't become a soldier. An intellectual who doesn't want to become Newton is not a good intellectual. I want to be China's Newton, I want this "Declaration against the Central Propaganda Department" to become a landmark historical document, like "On the Freedom to Publish" and "Comments on the Latest Prussian Censorship."
Tenth reason, the desire to benefit the future generation. I want to rescue the Central Propaganda Department so that it can be the source of happiness. "Citizen" and "democracy" have become taboo. Is this not a major disaster? When will it end? Even fish and birds know to worry about their descendants, so too must human beings. A thousand people acquiesce and that is not as good as one dissenter. Wenhuang was the one who dissented and therefore he prospered; Zhouhuang was the one who said nothing and therefore he met a bad end.
Eleventh reason, people in the same business stick together. You are a news gatherer whereas I am a researcher of news. I am interested in the process by which news is gathered. We are in fact one family, and we have the same responsibility about the welfare of our business, which is to serve the Chinese people. We should compliment each other to orient ourselves along our common axis: the Chinese nation and the Chinese tribe.
Twelfth reason, biological evidence. While the praying mantis is hunting the cicada, the bird is not far behind, and then the eagle is right behind too. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. With so much power in hand, how can the Central Propaganda Department not be supervised? Who can guarantee that it won't be corrupted? Do they trade power for money? There ought to be a yellow bird right behind the back of the Central Propaganda Department, so that someone can ask them if this "Don't" order was issued on account of a payoff. This is unacceptable in the biological sciences. The dinosaur did not have a natural enemy, but it still became distinct. We should also be watching each other and not cross the line.
Thirteenth reason, at worst I'll die since I don't want to live anymore. Every time that I hear the Central Propaganda Department issue another "Don't", I wish I could kill myself. Or else go to Yuanming Yuan or Yiwo Yuan where there must be thousands of trees on which to hang myself so as not to look at this world anymore. It is always another "Don't"! Is there no way to get the Central Propaganda Department to stop? Some deaths are weightier than the Taishan mountain while other deaths are lighter than feathers. A fellow student when I was a researcher student once said, "When Szema Chin wrote "The Book of History", he broke eggs on bricks." When the egg is broken, it is broken. But can you stop him from writing the "The Book of History"? I have gone through the constitution, the criminal law code and other laws of the People's Republic of China. Criticizing the Central Propaganda Department probably does not merit a death penalty. There will probably be some jail time, but there is nothing to be afraid of. It's just going to jail, right? I might even get the Qincheng treatment. Going to Qincheng prison is just like depositing your body at the bank, you can collect interest and it does not depreciate. These days, who amongst the famous oldtimers have not stayed at Qincheng? Gandhi said that the prison is the free hotel provided by the British Empire, with easy living and three meals a day. The Chinese jails are just as civilized as the British jails in that both are totally free (at one point it was not the same -- every time they execute a counter-revolutionary by shooting, the family of the counter-revolutionary has to pay 50 cents for the bullet or else they can't take the body back for burial). Will my sex life be empty? There is nothing wrong about trying to live a monk's life in jail. It can't be worse than high school or university. When I was in high school and university, I was not eating enough and it was no big deal. People who have suffered before know what to expect. A few days ago, I was watching Phoenix Satellite TV and Hsu Fufei was interviewing Ding Ling's partner Chen Ming. He said that the food at Qinccheng was not bad. When was that? Those were the days of shortages. These days, nobody is starving in the country, so how bad can it be for the people at Qincheng? Will I be beaten a bit? I get into shock whenever I am excited, like the faked deaths of certain insects. So if they touch me, I'll pass out. I don't think that they'll beat me again. Besides, it is no big deal to be beaten to death. Sun Chikuang was beaten to death. How do you expect to become a saint without dying? Chinese people have the problem of wanting to become saints without being concerned about their wives and kids. Westerners are better because they realize that cannot have a family if they want to become saints, which is why those Jesuits who come to preach in China are not married. If I have to render my own verdict, it is definitely not a death penalty; in fact, there shouldn't even be any penalty. To criticize the Central Propaganda Department is actually a good deed because it promotes the development of civilized behavior in Chinese society. I should be a big hero, and be remembered as such in history just like the famous names that I have mentioned previously.
Fourteenth reason, I am more sensitive about pain and less insensitive about injustice. I hate to hear that the two issues of petitioning and back wages cannot be reported because they impact stability. On New Year's Day, Chairman Hu made a short congratulatory speech to the world to call for world peace. I was quite upset when I heard that. Call for world peace? How about just calling for the back wages to be paid up? How about wishing for all the injustices occurring on the petitioners be removed? On the night of New Year's Eve, I had a dream. I was in Yiwo Yuan and I did not see anyone there. I was alone by myself in the whole place. Then I came up to the Bridge of Seventeen Holes and I saw that there was a pair of shoes at the tallest point of the bridge. The shoes were pointing north, which indicated to me that the owner of the shoes had just jumped off the bridge. Then I saw that those were my shoes! I had just jumped into Kunming Lake. I did not believe that I was dead, so I started to look for signs that I was still alive. I found that there was a letter inside one shoe, from me to Chairman Hu and Premier Wen. The letter said, "Why have you not issued a firm order to pay the back wages to the laborers? Why did not settle the petition problem with firm resolve? So now I have to die for you to see! Next year, if there are still unpaid back wages and more petitions, I won't forgive you from hell!" See, I have already done my death petition in my dream to protest the indifference of the government about back wages and petitioning.
5. To reveal the stupidity, cold-bloodedness, venality of the "theory of stability" of the Central Propaganda Department and to affirm the scientific theory of stability
When the Central Government asked the various levels of leadership to set up scientific systems of development, the Central Propaganda Department used the need for stability to kill off media reports time and again. We must re-assess this reason and to foster a scientific approach to development. My thinking is that there are three types of stability: one is regular stability, the other is instability and the last is super-stability. Super-stability corresponds to death or ossification. The stability advocated by the Central Propaganda Department corresponds to super-stability. The media in China have become ossified.
There are also three reasons to kill off news reports because they might impact stability. One is the idiocy and callousness of the Central Propaganda Department. To say that reporting on petitioning and back wages would impact stability, that reporting on family planning would hurt China's image, etc, reflected the idiocy and callousness. The subject of back wages has finally emerged into the public forefront; not only has the country not become destabilized, it is actually more stable than ever and the government has become more likeable. This proves that the Central Propaganda Department was very wrong about using the stability reason to kill off so many news reports. It has delayed China's progress in civilization, and make China look really bad in the world.
Another basis is that the Central Propaganda Department is renting out its power. When it receives payoffs from one side, it will turn around and order special feature programs and other newspapers not to cover the subject. According to information and belief, there is no medium that the Central Propaganda Department could not take care of except for Xinhua's internal reference bulletin. Any bad person who pays off the Central Propaganda Department knows that it is ineffective when the Xinhua internal reference bulletin is in on the act.
When the Central Propaganda Department declares that a subject is closed because it may impact stability, we need to ask just whose stability is being impacted. Is it the stability of the country? Not at all. Rather, it is the stability of the corrupt elements! It impacted the stability of the BMW principals! It impacted the stability of the Yunnan Province Propaganda Department head. Based upon the Central Propaganda Department's "Stability above all", we ask whose stability overrides all else? Whenever the Central Propaganda Department puts a stop order on a news story, we see that it is the stability of the corrupt elements which overrides all else. It is the stability of the people who oppress little people which overrides all else. It is stability of the people who pay off the Central Propaganda Department which overrides all else. It is the stability of the sub-contractor boss who does not pay his workers which overrides all else. It is the stability of the people who forced the poor downtrodden people to travel thousands of miles to file petitions which overrides all else.
The third basis can actually impact stability. When we hear "Stop!" we need to ask, Which type of stability is impacted? The regular stability? Or the super-stability? If the "stop" impacts the super-stability, then it ought to be terminated. If that made no difference, it would be a disaster. What is regular stability and what is super-stability? There should be some scientific standards. We cannot act like before by just following callousness, stupidity and graft. The management of the Chinese cultural industry by the Central Propaganda Department is worse than the management of news publishing by the British Empire two hundred years ago. We cannot help but be motivated by that.
This is the digital age, and the decisions of the Central Propaganda Department should be digitized. This is the age of transparency, and the decisions of the Central Propaganda Department should be transparent. If you go through all the streets of Beijing, you will not see a sign for the Central Propaganda Department. If you call for directory assistance at 114 in Beijing, you will not find a number for the Central Propaganda Department. If you search on the Internet, you will draw a blank on the Central Propaganda Department. This is an organization that has shut off its eyes and ears and live against the changing times. Is the Central Propaganda Department an underground party, or an illegal criminal organization? Why does it completely ignore the right of the public to know? The Central Propaganda Department is no longer the gatekeeper for the consciousness of the government and the party. It has become a critical gateway that has its own independent economic interests. It has the sole right in the whole country to decide what the media can or cannot say. It has the monopoly power to decide whether what you say is impacting the stability of the country, and this has enabled it to accumulate illegal profits that no outsider can know. This is an age of accountability so that all the acts and deeds of the Central Propaganda Department must follow scientific principles. It is difficult to say just how much these ultra-leftist remnants of the Cold War era has gathered in terms of black money payoffs and the number of voices that they have suppressed as a result. The age of terror in which the leadership position of the Central Propaganda Department goes to most extreme ultra-leftists should be over!