Shanghai World Economic Herald

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Date: 1989

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Print Journalism


Artist: Shanghai's World Economic Herald

Confronting Bodies: Shanghai Authorities

Dates of Action: April, 1989

Location: China, Shanghai

Description of Artwork: " In mid-April, disgraced former party chief Hu Yaobang died, and days later the Herald held a forum on Hu, a reformer who had been removed from office in 1987. The paper's April 24 edition covered the forum, with comments by dissident intellectuals such as political scientist Yan Jiaqi, who said, "China's main problem up to today has been the lack of democracy... A handful of people can just talk among themselves and put aside the interest of the Chinese people... Some people who were in charge of ideology have no right to mourn Hu. They stabbed him in the back; they will be tried by history."

The Incident: Shanghai party head, Jiang Zemin, demanded that the editor of the Herald, Qin Benli, remove several paragraphs from the April 24 issue. Qin Benli ignored the demands and proceeded to order a full press run the following day. Zemin responded by confiscating all copies of the issue and on April 26 removed Qin from his position as editor. A revised issue of the April 24 publication produced under party supervision replaced the comments of the critics with official statements from government authorities, and furthermore removed the cover photo of recent student demonstrations. "... The Herald printed its May 1 and May 8 issues under close supervision by the rectification committee, while the staff communicated secretly with Qin. The editions were a mix of censored articles and articles that the staff slipped into press runs against explicit committee orders. The May 8 edition was the Herald's last; shortly thereafter, the paper was suspended from publication... "... Martial law was soon declared in Beijing. As masses of people blocked troop convoys approaching Tiananmen Square, Qin appeared in Shanghai at a rally of thousands who were demanding amongst other things, the Herald's reopening. He was wildly applauded."

Results of Incident: Two weeks after the June 4 massacre in Tiananmen Square, Qin was placed under house arrest and ordered to discontinue study sessions. The Herald was officially closed in March, 1990.

Source: Andrew Giarelli, World Press Review, May 1990, pg. 26