China: Magazine featuring Cui Jian banned

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China:
Magazine featuring Cui Jian banned

Three weeks after the first copies of a Chinese version of Rolling Stone hit the newsstands and were torn off the shelves, press regulators said they would not allow it to publish a second issue

Rolling Stone, the former icon of American counterculture journalism, is entering the global mainstream with 11 international editions. The Mandarin edition in China which was launched in the beginning of March 2006 appeared to be a sales hit. The initial print run of 125,000 quickly sold out. But the content was apparently well beyond what the Shanghai bureau of the Government Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) could tolerate. A cover story about the rock star Cui Jian, the “godfather of Chinese rock” – also known as “China’s Bruce Springsteen” – glaring in lurid red and gold from the front page, reportedly rankled the Chinese censors who abruptly ordered the Rolling Stone editor to stop publishing.

The 44-year-old protest singer Cui Jian is best known for ‘Nothing to My Name’, a song which became the unofficial anthem of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He also performed in Tiananmen Square back then. However, the cover story did not mention this. On the contrary, it said that the Western media exaggerated the conflict between Cui Jian’s music and the political authorities in China.
Recently, Cui Jian has been rehabilitated by the Chinese government. In September 2005 he played his first public concert in China in 12 years, to nearly 10,000 fans in the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing.

The article about Cui Jian inside the Mandarin edition of Rolling Stone avoided touching on political subjects, and did not mention that he has been banned from Chinese stadium stages, with only a few exceptions, since the early 1990’s. The story briefly alluded to a government ban that Cui (pronounced: “tsway”) faced in the 1980’s, but it said the ban “didn’t last long.” Generally, the magazine made almost no mention of the widespread censorship and banning of many Chinese singers and writers.

This first Chinese edition of Rolling Stone also contained an article about a blogger who wrote about her sex life and was censored. This is also believed to have upset the press regulators, even though the article did not even mention that her blog had been banned by the Chinese government or the censorship regulations that she has faced.

The Chinese regulators said that Rolling Stone was stopped “because it had not fulfilled all the procedures to publish.” Without being explicit, a spokesperson from the GAPP bureau, Liu Jianquan, hinted there was more to the decision to stop publication than a technicality: “It’s not simply a matter of procedure because, even if they handed in the right application, whether we would approve it remains a question. So we have issued them a warning and told them to stop their illegal action.”

Sources:

Los Angeles Times – 30 March 2006:
‘Rolling Stone Silenced in China’

The Globe and Mail – 11 March 2006:

‘Taking cover: Rolling Stone’s China launch a rock-solid hit’

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