In response to:

Shut Down in China from the November 2, 2006 issue

To the Editors:

For many days since July 25, 2006, Chinese intellectuals and other netizens have been living in misery because the Web site that had been their spiritual home for six years, Century China (, was shut down by the Chinese authorities.

On July 19, the Communication Administration Bureau of Beijing issued a “Notice to shut down Century China” (No. 2006-242). It stated that the Web site “illegally provides Internet news without proper qualifications” and “has violated the ‘Regulations of Internet News Service’ and Article 19 of ‘Regulations of Internet Information Service.’ Accordingly, Century China Web site and its chat forum Century Salon shall be shut down immediately.”

Throughout history oppressive governments worldwide have suppressed freedom of speech, but in today’s world, this type of suppression is becoming increasingly intolerable. The shutdown of Century China is just another instance of the Chinese government’s suppression of the freedom of its people. Therefore we must stage a focused and unyielding protest against the government’s abuse of power.

Since its launch on July 20, 2000, Century China became one of the most influential nongovernmental Web sites in Mainland China. Strictly observing its doctrine to be “free, independent, democratic, tolerant, and rational,” it attracted many prominent Chinese intellectuals within China and abroad. The Web site made a unique contribution to promoting China’s freedom of speech, political and social liberalization, and served as a communication forum for Chinese people worldwide.

Foreseeing the fate of his Web site, the editor in chief of Century China wrote a letter just before it was shut down. “Ever since its establishment,” he wrote, “our Web site has aimed to build a cyber world where rationality and freedom of speech reign. For six years, we strove hard to attain this goal because we believe that such a public space is beneficial to developing equality, freedom, rationality, and other crucial ingredients of modern society, and that we could do our part to accelerate China’s academic advancement and cultural development.”

In building Century China’s cyber world, we gradually mastered the tactics of “perseverance in compromise and compromise in perseverance.” The more we come to understand the value of freedom of speech and thought, the sooner we realize that in today’s political environment we must not only promote freedom of speech, but also explain, research, and fight for the civil and political rights granted by our own Constitution. We must strive to overcome the existing social system while compromising and working within it. Our aim is to expand freedom of speech and to promote social advancement little by little.

This responsibility belongs not only to certain individuals, but to the entire society.

To respect and safeguard freedom of speech, we are looking to reach a mutual understanding with government administrative departments that have the noble responsibility to implement the spirit of the Constitution. Even if this cannot happen right now, we hope to draft some basic rules for consideration by which open and rational dialogue can be held to solve this problem. The result of peaceful dialogue should positively expand the personal freedoms of the people.

The public space that was created by Century China represents the hope of all Chinese, at home and abroad—for freedom, constitutional democracy, and social liberalization. The shutdown of Century China is the destruction of the one spiritual home we had in the cyber world. By destroying this platform that connects the government and the people, and intellectuals at home and abroad, Chinese scholars are further alienated from their homeland.

People cannot live without freedom of speech, and suppressing this freedom violates the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as China’s Constitution.

Today, the international community has agreed that governments must respect and safeguard freedom of speech, which includes the Internet. Consequently, censorship of the Internet breaks international laws and norms.

Although it was able to force the closing of Century China, the government can never eliminate the people’s desire for freedom of speech, nor can it censor the Internet outside of China.

The shutdown of Century China has attracted worldwide criticism both inside China and abroad. The government and its administrative departments can no longer turn a deaf ear, because it is their responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Constitution by implementing each and every article.

Hence, for the purpose of promoting the rule of law in China, we state here that the communication administration departments in Beijing have violated Article 35 of the Constitution. On the basis of Article 41, we call upon the administrative departments to publicize the evidence they have that warrants the closure of Century China.

We appeal for the support of all Chinese intellectuals at home and abroad!

Initial signers from the Chinese Mainland:

Liu Xiaobo, Beijing, freelance writer

Liu Junning, Beijing, political theorist

Zhang Zuhua, Beijing, political theorist

Ding Zilin, Beijing, professor

Jiang Peikun, Beijing, professor

Bao Zunxin, Beijing, historian

Wu Si, Beijing, historian

He Weifang, Beijing, professor

Yu Jie, Beijing, writer

Li Datong, Beijing, journalist

Liao Yiwu, Chengdu, writer

Wang Yi, Chengdu, scholar

Sun Wenguang, Ji’nan, professor

Wang Zhijing, Beijing, freelance writer

Wu Wei, Guangdong, Internet editor

Xu Xiao, Beijing, writer

Liang Xiaoyan, Beijing, editor

Pu Zhiqiang, Beijing, lawyer

Hao Jian, Beijing, professor

Li Jianqiang, Qingdao, lawyer

Zhao Dagong, Shenzhen, freelance writer

Yu Shicun, Beijing, writer

Liu Di, Beijing, freelance writer

Zan Aizong, Zhejiang, journalist

Wen Kejian, Zhejiang, freelance writer

Lin Hui, Zhejiang, freelance writer

Zhu Jianguo, Shenzhen, freelance writer

Gao Yu, Beijing, journalist

Hu Jia, Beijing, AIDS worker

Wan Yanhai, Beijing, AIDS worker

Wang Lixiong, Beijing, writer

Wei Se, Lhasa, writer

Teng Biao, Beijing, lawyer

Yu Meisun, Beijing, freelance writer

Yu Zhijian, Hunan, freelance writer

Chen Xiaoya, Beijing, historian

Liu Anping, Guangzhou, physician

Yuan Xinting, Guangzhou, editor

Qin Geng, Hainan, freelance writer

Li Jian, Dalian, human rights defender

Deng Huaming, Guangzhou, lawyer

Tang Jingling, Guangzhou, lawyer

Tang Cong, Guangzhou, journalist

Huang Weilong, Guangzhou, freelance writer

Zhao Cheng, Shanxi, academic

Xie Yong, Shanxi, editor

Qi Yanchen, Hebei, freelance writer

Yang Hengjun, Guangzhou, businessman

Wang Xinli, Nanjing, writer

Du Daobin, Hubei, freelance writer

Liu Ning, Beijing, freelance writer

Guo Xiaolin, Beijing, writer

Han Xin, Guizhou, writer

Hu Yunfa, Wuhan, writer

Zhang Dajun, Beijing, scholar

Yang Zaixin, Guangxi, lawyer

Li Heping, Beijing, lawyer

Initial signers from Overseas:

Zheng Yi, USA, writer

Wang Dan, USA, Ph.D. candidate

Wuerkaixi, Taiwan, political commentator

Zhang Heci, Australia, freelance writer

Wan Zhi, Sweden, writer

Zhang Yu, Sweden, researcher

Cai Yongmei, Hong Kong, magazine editor

Hu Ping, USA, scholar

Yi Ping, USA, scholar

Kang Zhengguo, USA, teacher

Cai Chu, USA, editor

Huang Heqing, Spain, freelance writer

Jingwa [pen name], USA, poet

Wang Yiliang, USA, poet

Yang Lian, England, poet

Youyou [pen name], England, novelist

Menglang [pen name], USA, writer

Cheng Yinghong, USA, historian

Guo Luoji, USA, researcher

Wu Yimao, USA, writer

Liao Tienchi, USA, editor

Chen Kuide, USA, scholar

Zhang Weiguo, USA, journalist

Li Xiaorong, France, scholar

Sun Jingwu, Japan, writer

Wang Juntao, USA, political scientist

Lao Daiwei, Australia, writer

Amu [pen name], Australia, writer

Asen [pen name], Australia, writer

Jian Shaohui, Australia, writer

Qi Jiazhen, Australia, writer

Qiu Xiaoyu, USA, university staff

Huang Xiang, USA, poet

Hong Zhesheng, USA, editor

Feng Chongyi, Australia, professor

Zhang Lun, France, scholar

Zhang Guangda, France, scholar

He Qinglian, USA, scholar

Lin Baohua, Taiwan, commentator

Harry Wu, USA, publisher

Zhang Langlang, USA, writer

Wei Shi, USA, editor

Chen Shizhong, Sweden, professor

This Issue

November 2, 2006