Zhao's close association with the crackdown of June 4, 1989,
when Chinese troops opened fire on civilians in
The Chinese Communist Party weeds out and suppresses unofficial discussion in the media and online of "Tiananmen," "6.4," "1989," or other terms that evoke the tragedy, a potential rallying issue for challenges to the one-party system. It is discussed circuitously in Internet chat rooms, often through a creative use of puns and homonyms. The English-language blog Shanghaiist described it in a recent post as the "tragedy-that-must-not-be-named."
Nearing a landmark 20th anniversary next month, Tiananmen is particularly sensitive this year. How propaganda officials respond will be fascinating. "Zhao concludes that China must become a parliamentary democracy to meet the challenges of the modern world--a remarkable observation from someone who spent his entire career in service to the Communist Party, and one that might well provoke a debate on China's Internet discussion boards and in its chat rooms," Adi Ignatius, one of the editors of the English version of the book, writes in a Time article.
As Ignatius predicts, the scant references to the
publication on Web sites within
One recent case in
Du, an octogenarian, dodged attempts to get rid of him, according to Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan magazine. He transferred some--but not all--of his responsibilities to a colleague. Du told the weekly Yazhou Zhoukan that his magazine had not backed down. "We stick to our position," he said. "Since we started the publication, we've met with nine real problems. There will come a 10th and an 11th. But broadly speaking, our articles reflect the kind of independent thinking going on among reformers within the party."
Zhao may not be as risky a topic as he once was. On the other hand, the provocative timing of the memoir's release may elicit a punitive response from the Chinese government for those who report on it.
Hugo Restall of the Far Eastern Economic Review--whose own
blog, Traveller's Tales, is inaccessible
The international correspondents, however, were dodging a different kind of restriction. "Publisher Simon and Schuster struck elaborate embargo agreements with the major media," Restall wrote.