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Eased censorship an illusion, says analyst

Says apparent easing of restrictions creates 'false image' outside the country

Zhao Ziyang Zhao Ziyang
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • April 5, 2012
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A political commentator has dismissed as an “illusion” reports that Chinese authorities have relaxed surveillance of a ceremony paying tribute to ousted secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang.

More than 200 people, including former student leaders involved in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989, have reportedly commemorated the former leader by visiting his home as part of the annual Qingming, or grave-sweeping, festival.

Internet users have also participated by visiting a virtual tomb-sweeping ceremony on Zhao’s memorial webpage.

Willy Lam Wo-lap, a Hong Kong-based commentator, said that while authorities seem to have loosened their grip on information about the June 4 Incident in Beijing, the measure was more illusion than substance, as censorship in China is “sometimes loose and sometimes tight.”

“The reality is that there is increasing suppression on dissidents rather than a reduction, and even worse than before,” said. Lam, adjunct professor of China studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He said that while the reverse might appear true, as authorities allow greater access to Zhao’s webpage, there is no special meaning in this.

“In the past 20 years since Zhao was ousted, the Chinese official media never mentioned his name again. Except for those who are concerned about public affairs, people below 30 have no impression of Zhao,” he said.

“So being open is only an illusion. It is a false image created for people outside China.”

Zhao was regarded as a reformist in the Communist regime prior to his ouster, following a military crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy demonstration.

His name has been censored on the internet, and people visiting his home have been taken away by security officers.

For the first time since the events of June 4, Chinese authorities temporarily lifted censorship of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations last month.

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