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China Reform Monitor - No. 730

U.S. report warns of China's "disturbing" military growth;
Liberal Chinese newsmagazine refuses to be censored

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
December 30, 2008


November 20:

This winter North Korea “is seriously short of heavy oil, coal, and food,” has tightened security along its border with China, and published an official notice that "starting from 10 November, the DPRK will temporarily stop receiving Chinese tourist groups,”
the Ta Kung Pao reports. In Jilin Province, the DPRK has set up secret sentry posts at 50 meters intervals along the shared border between the two countries. A North Korean border guard aimed his rifle at a photographer that attempted to photograph the heightened security measures. The reporters returned to the border at night but were quickly spotted by DPRK monitoring devices that illuminated the area. The Beijing-leaning Hong Kong daily concluded that “without any doubt everything is being monitored.”


November 21:


In response to several “vicious” cross-border robberies and homicides committed by North Korean nationals in Jilin Province, which shares a 1,400 kilometers border with the reclusive regime, Chinese authorities have significantly tightened border controls. In addition to China’s two or three security lines along the DPRK border, Jilin Province has invested over 10 million yuan in the installation of interlinked alarms along the border connecting a series of defense stations, consisting of 8,700 alarm service telephones and 340 police kiosks. Police vehicles serving Hotline 110 (i.e. 911) were also purchased.
Ta Kung Pao also reports that under the jurisdiction of the province’s Border Defense Corps, 1,600 border villages have set up patrols of three to four men each. In the event of an emergency, the system alerts villagers belonging to the 10-household joint security team and the police officers at the closest border defense station.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressionally-mandated advisory panel, has issued an annual report to lawmakers that aggressively rebukes China’s militarization of space and espionage programs, calling them "impressive but disturbing." Beijing’s space and computer warfare capabilities "suggest China is intent on expanding its sphere of control even at the expense of its Asian neighbors and the United States,"
the Associated Press quoted the report as saying
. It recommended that lawmakers provide money for U.S. government programs that would monitor and protect computer networks. When asked about the report Qin Gang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the commission, which consists of six Democrats and six Republicans, "deliberately slanders and attacks China" and "attempts to mislead public opinion and the general public as well as set obstacles for Sino-U.S. cooperation in extensive fields." Qin warned the commission to “stop issuing reports of this kind and stop interfering with China's internal affairs.”

[Editor’s Note: The editor worked on the professional staff of the commission from August 2003 to December 2005.]



November 22:

Despite its censure by the Chinese Ministry of Culture officials in September for an article commemorating the late disgraced liberal Party Chief Zhao Ziyang, Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine has persisted with its liberal editorial policy in its December edition.
The South China Morning Post reports that executive editor Wu Si said the magazine's editorial policy remained outspoken and it was not avoiding mention of sensitive topics. In the December edition, Zhao's name again appears four times and includes a story about the fierce debate in Beijing between “liberals and conservatives,” Wu said. The ministry had formally requested that the magazine's 85-year-old editor-in-chief and publisher, Du Daozheng, retire. But Du said he "kindly but firmly expressed his staunch plans not to retire" and after the attempt sent a letter to the ministry explaining that he started the magazine in 1991 as an unofficial publication run by retired intellectuals and officials. "So, it's nonsense for us to retire, and we will keep our line without any change."

[Editor’s Note: Du is a former editor of the Guangming Daily and was close friend of Zhao. He headed the General Administration of Press and Publications from 1987 until 1989, when he was deposed in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown for opposing the military action and refusing to criticize Zhao. With the help of dozens of liberal former ministers and open-minded, retired, senior party and military officials, Du developed the magazine into a "land of free expression." It has consistently pushed for political reform and called for democracy in recent years.]


Related Categories: Democracy & Governance; China; Space Policy; North Korea; China and East Asia Program

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