|By Mandy Chan, Heep Yunn School|
It is encouraging to know that Liu Binjie, the head of General Administration for Press and Publications, appreciates the banned book Da Jiang Da Hai 1949 (Big River, Big Sea - Untold Stories of 1949) by Lung Ying-tai.
Censorship has prevailed throughout China's history. It's a tool used by tyrannical emperors to control people's minds and stamp out unwanted ideas which might lead to social unrest. One prominent example was the burning of books and burying of scholars by the first emperor, Qin.
Even now, some government officials are still under the illusion that imposing strict censorship can prevent social unrest. This is completely mistaken. It is wrong to use censorship to ban opposing views or the truth about things. The banning of books has always been in line with the mainland government's intense crackdown on the media and internet freedom.
Censorship is used to stem public criticism to maintain political stability. Over the years, a number of books and critiques about history and social problems have been banned to avoid instability.
Yet the stark truth is that it is the injustice and inequality in society which stem from corruption and power abuse among unscrupulous businessmen and local government officials, that give rise to what the government calls "instability".
Intellectual freedom is of paramount importance to a civic society as it indicates its willingness to look at different points of views and make changes.
The central government advocates harmony, so why not reveal all the hidden problems that are the real roots of disharmony, and let hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens know what our nation is lacking and mourning for from a book?
An effective and empathetic government attaches great importance to public opinion. This attitude holds the key to real success for China.
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