Supporters and editors of the purged Chinese political journal Yanhuang Chunqiu said on Wednesday they will continue to fight a management purge of the cutting-edge magazine by its parent organization.
Last week, a court in the Chinese capital refused to accept a lawsuit alleging breach of contract filed by the former editors of the cutting-edge political magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu against the National Academy of Arts that owns it.
But the magazine’s former editorial team are garnering widespread support for the publication from its editorial board, advisers and readership, while warning readers not to accept a “sanitized” version put out by the new editorial team.
The original editorial board met on Wednesday morning in defiance of the reshuffle, amid a chorus of anger over the coup.
“Nearly 20 people attended the meeting, and the editorial team leaders told them exactly what happened on July 13,” editorial board member Wu Wei told RFA, adding that ousted editors Du Daozheng and Li Rui were also present.
“Du Daozheng, Li Rui, Li Buyun and around a dozen other board members spoke,” Wu said.
"Everyone was very indignant about the breach of contract by the National Academy of Arts, and its takeover of the Yanhuang Chunqiu leadership and the reorganization.”
Meanwhile, supporters of the magazine, including some heavyweights in the reformist faction of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, held a symposium in Beijing to garner reactions to the failure of the lawsuit, Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping told RFA.
“Among those attending were three veterans of the Chinese legal system, Jiang Ping, former head of the China University of Politics and Law and former vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) legal affairs committee,” Mo said. “We also had Guo Daohui and Li Buyun.”
“The opinions … were basically that Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine and the National Academy of Arts are on an equal footing as separate bodies, each with legal person status,” he said. “Therefore, the contract they signed should be regarded as a contract between equals, and the court should have accepted the lawsuit.”
Reformist voice of party
Meanwhile, veteran Chinese poet and essayist Shao Yanxiang penned an open letter to the National Arts Academy asking for his name and that of fellow editorial adviser Yuan Ying to be removed from the masthead of the magazine’s website.
“We wish to exercise our right to use our names as we see fit, and we will be taking note of the individuals concerned, and pursuing those responsible for these illegal actions,” Shao wrote.
Mo also warned that any issue of Yanhuang Chunqiu that appears since the takeover won’t have been produced by the original team, and won’t be recognized by them.
“They will only recognize a Yanhuang Chunqiu issue produced under the leadership of Du Daozheng and the editorial board,” he said.
A retired Beijing academic close to the magazine who declined to be named said the magazine had been a thorn in the side of the ruling Chinese Communist Party for some time now.
“They forced [former deputy editor] Yang Jisheng to retire, but now they’re still not content,” the academic said.
“Yanhuang Chunqiu will fight this all the way. This won’t be like it was when they ‘rectified’ [formerly outspoken] Southern Weekend magazine, where they managed to sink it with a single blow,” he said.
“It’s very likely that we will lose, but we have to fight this nonetheless. As readers, we will give them our full support.”
Retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang said the letter from Shao and Yuan represents the reformist voice within the ruling party.
“Yanhuang Chunqiu was the only publication within China’s borders that dared to tell the truth,” Sun said. “It dared to document the dark side of the Communist Party’s record.”
Reported by Qiao Long and Gao Shan for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.