Gao Yu’s Disappearance Highlights Serious Threat to Chinese Journalism

A commentary by Bao Tong
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A file photo of Chinese journalist Gao Yu speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong.
A file photo of Chinese journalist Gao Yu speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong.

The disappearance of Gao Yu shows that the liberty and freedom of expression of Chinese people is under great threat.

This well-known journalist had just celebrated her 70th birthday when the news of her disappearance came, spelling doom for Chinese journalism and for the civil rights movement.

Perhaps she is being held against her will by a criminal organization. If so, this raises doubts about the ability of the government to protect its own citizens.

Perhaps she is under supervision by some government agency or department, which would raise even more doubts about the legality of the government's operations.

Whichever it is, the newly formed state security working group must bear some of the responsibility, and we hope will soon get to the bottom of the matter.

Some people say that Gao Yu was too outspoken, and that this is what led to her persecution. Perhaps that is the reason, but that doesn't make it a legitimate reason.

I know about the universal values of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I know that there was in China's recent history a politician called Xi Zhongxun—the father of the current president, Xi Jinping—who was the instigator of the Protection of Different Opinions Act, which was his long-cherished wish.

Nowadays, in the 21st century, there aren't very many citizens left who are "too outspoken," like Gao Yu. There really aren't enough.

I don't want to see this country continue on the path towards a new era of book-burning, when all different views are wiped out, which will inevitably lead to a submissive era of shameless dogs, with no spirit of independence or free thought, no creativity. This would be no sort of habitat for any true patriot.

The fates of every citizen are inextricably bound up with the fate of the political system. The rights and liberty of a single individual are linked to the rights and liberty of everyone.

An illegal threat to the liberty and rights of any person increases the likelihood that everyone's rights and freedoms will be threatened.

This is one of the reasons that I had to publish the above statement.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.





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