Liberal Chinese magazine sues government after takeover

AP News
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Posted: Aug 16, 2016 7:25 AM
Liberal Chinese magazine sues government after takeover

BEIJING (AP) — The ousted editors of a liberal Chinese magazine are suing the government in an effort to wrest back control of one of the country's best-known political journals.

A lawyer representing seven high-level editors of Yanhuang Chunqiu, Ding Xikui, said Tuesday that the former staffers are seeking damages after the Ministry of Culture last month forcibly replaced top executives, seized the magazine's offices and published an issue under their names.

The struggle for the journal's reins comes at a time when President Xi Jinping's administration is quashing dissent and revisionist voices.

Although the magazine's former staff and supporters do not believe the publication has an independent future, the plaintiffs are hoping to shut it down altogether to prevent authorities from releasing additional issues without their consent.

Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, deputy editor Wang Yanjun held a copy of what he called the "fake" August issue put out by the Ministry of Culture and decried its new editorial direction. The magazine's new leaders convened a meeting this week that sought contributions from well-known neo-Maoist and nationalist writers that horrified the old guard, he said.

"It's diametrically opposite to the spirit of our magazine," Wang said.

Founded in 1991 by senior members of the Communist Party's liberal wing, Yanhuang Chunqiu amassed a following by examining sensitive historical periods such as the Cultural Revolution and advocating gradual political loosening. The magazine has clashed with censors on numerous occasions but has survived until now — thanks to behind-the-scenes support from its sympathizers, including high-ranking military officials.

Its contributors have tangled with authorities on several occasions in the past year alone as China's political climate has grown more restrictive.

One former editor was ordered by a court this year to apologize for an article questioning a historical tale about Communist heroism during World War II. Another editor was forbidden from leaving the country in March to accept an award at Harvard University for a book investigating the party's role in the 1958-1961 Great Chinese Famine.