April 12, 2024

Press Freedom


China January 27, 2006

H.E. Hu Jintao
Office of the President
Beijing 100017
People’s Republic of China
Fax: ( 512-5810

Your Excellency:

The members of the Overseas Press Club of America are deeply concerned about several recent cases involving Chinese citizens trying to exercise their freedom of expression on the Internet.

The Internet is a tool that should promote the spread of information and education, as well as the critical thinking crucial in any modern society. Censorship can only lead to ignorance and backward thinking.

In the strongest terms, therefore, we protest the detention of Yang Tongyan (known on-line as Yang Tongshui), who was detained by plainclothes police in Nanjing in December, 2005. Yang previously spent ten years in prison on “counter-revolution” charges for condemning the government’s military crack-down on pro-democracy demonstrators near Tiananmen Square in 1989. He has written for news Web sites including Boxun and Epoch Times. His offense appears to be that his writings were critical of authoritarian rule in China. He advocated, for example, for the release of imprisoned Chinese writers, Zhang Lin and Zheng Yichun. As far as we can determine, there is nothing illegal about Yang’s behavior under Chinese law. Indeed, China ‘s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression.

On similar grounds we protest the censorship of well-known blogger, Zhao Jing, whose on-line pen name is An Ti. Zhao lost his site on the Microsoft hosting service, MSN Spaces, on December 30 — after writing about both the government’s removal of top editors at Beijing News and a subsequent strike by journalists at the paper protesting their dismissal. Zhao Jing was doing nothing more than the routine work of a journalist in reporting legitimate news.

It is often hard to be optimistic about the situation of our colleagues in China. Only this month, the Liaoning Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Zheng Yichun on charges of “inciting subversion” in his articles criticizing the government. Like Zhao and Yang, Zheng did nothing more than peacefully express his opinions, a right protected by China ‘s Constitution.

Freedom of expression is among the important pre-requisites of a healthy, modern society, and the best guarantor of stability. In the face of rapid change and social upheaval, channels of communication and expression must be open. Many of China ‘s greatest thinkers, long-time Communist Party members and patriots have stressed that self-criticism is a necessary pre-requisite for any nation’s progress. Often it is the critics who are the greatest patriots of all, because it is they who dare to push for a better, more modern country.

The people of China must be allowed to freely evaluate their society for it to move forward. We remind you that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all members of the United Nations pledge themselves, commits its signatories to “a world in which freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”

We sincerely hope that you will stop the repression of Chinese voices on the Internet and do all in your authority to secure the release Yang Tongshui and Zheng Yichun.

Respectfully yours,
Dorinda Elliott
Kevin McDermott
Freedom of the Press Committee


Wen Jiabao

State Council

Office of the Premier


Beijing 100077

People’s Republic of China

Fax: ( 512-5810

Yang Jiechi

Ambassador of China to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Fax: (202) 588-0032

Ambassador Wang Guangya

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China

to the United Nations

350 East 35th Street

New York, NY 10016

Fax: (212) 634-7626

Clark T. Randt, Jr.

U.S. Ambassador to China

Embassy of the United States of America

No. 3 Xiu Shui Bei Jie

100600 Beijing


Fax: ( 532-6929

Ms. Mary Osako

Yahoo! Inc.

701 First Avenue

Sunnyvale , CA 94089

Fax: (408) 349-3301

Mr. Sergey Brin

Google Inc.

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway

Mountain View , CA 94043

Fax: (650) 618-1499

Mr. Brooke Richardson

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way

Redmond , WA 98052

Fax: (425) 936-7329