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Communist Party elders publish letter advocating freedom of speech

Chinese authorities have been outraged over the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a dissident who is currently in prison in China. From summoning the Norwegian ambassador to discuss the award to putting Xiaobo’s wife under house arrest, the Chinese government has openly expressed its opposition to the Nobel decision. This attitude has once again proven the Chinese government’s reputation of having a complete disregard for the freedom of speech of its citizens.

In a much-needed move against the current government’s policies, a group of retired Chinese government officials and academics sent a letter last week to the government demanding complete press freedom in China. In the letter, the group stated that the Chinese government’s censorship over the press was in violation of the Chinese constitution. The letter stressed the need for reforming China’s current political system and saw freedom of speech as the first and most important step towards this end.

Although the letter was sent three days after the announcement of the Nobel Prize, there is no evidence that directly links the letter to the award. However, even if unrelated, it is a welcome message. It is encouraging to realize that those who were once the core of the Communist Party in China believe in freedom of speech. The letter is also an indication that some Chinese officials believe the current government has gone too far with its restrictive policies.

It is high time that the Chinese government ease some of its controlling policies, and we believe this is a positive step forward. Although it is naive to hope that the Chinese government actually carries out all the policy changes suggested in the letter, we hope government officials realize that their current policies are detrimental to the progress of the nation.