Chang Ping talks about "being resigned" and the future

Chang Ping speaking at Fudan University in 2010, photo by Hong Jianpeng (洪坚鹏)

Chang Ping (长平), a journalist at the Southern Media Group, was forced to quit at the end of January. The Guardian reported that Chang said "It is not just because of one particular article, it is because I have always written critical articles." In 2008, during the time of the Tibet riots, Chang Ping wrote an editorial in Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报) saying that reporting of Tibet should be more open. After that, he had quietly gone back to working for the Southern Media Group.

Chang Ping speaks to Danwei just before the Spring Festival break about the forced resignation.

Danwei: In your interview to foreign media, you said that “being resigned” was due to your accumulated essays rather than individual essays. Why are you “being resigned” now?
Chang Ping: Because of “being resigned,” the cause isn’t with me. Also the system operates under the characteristic of operating behind the scenes, to the extent f not leaving a trace behind the scenes, therefore very few people know the specific reason. We can only analyze and guess, now they want me to quit, it’s because the authorities are more nervous, and are under higher pressure.

Danwei: In your point of view, talking in the short term, when will Chinese media become relatively loosened up?
Chang Ping: The end of the autocratic system is hard to guess. It won’t automatically stop, but needs to see the extent of social resistance. From the viewpoint of the authorities, the trend of controlling of the media is getting tighter, and the control is becoming more and more effective; but from the point of view of the media, when the banning reaches an extreme, the wall will fall one day. Many people look to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, but they have forgotten when the media had high hopes for the “Hu-Wen system.”

Danwei: What social phenomenon have you been concerned about recently, why have you been concerned about it?
Chang Ping: I am watching the emergencies in Tunisia and Egypt, because it involves to the right to resist of the people and the result of this resistance.

Danwei: Has the recent resignation from the Southern Weekly Group directly affected your output?
Chang Ping: It won't affect my output.

Danwei: In your lecture at Fudan University, you said: “In Weibo, many people are yelling out extremist slogans. But if they weren't controlled, it would be interesting. Our society is multivalent and diversified. Everybody should have a platform to speak out. We don't need everybody to advocate liberalism and democracy. The key is whether everybody can have their own voices.” Talking in terms of Sina microblog, blogs and websites, will you transfer most of your work onto the internet? If not, why not?
Chang Ping: I won't purposefully deliberately differentiate within the system, outside of the system, traditional media and new media. For me, as long as they are the media, I will write where there is an opportunity for me to write.

Danwei: Do you have any views on the “My Dad is Li Gang” incident and its quick spreading and the civil consciousness after?
Chang Ping: As a single event, it didn't have the use of changing the system. But, the series of events show that the masses' consciousness of their rights are awakening. Everyone realizes the evil nature of special privileges, and they continue to make their resistance known.

Danwei: I remember that you were dismissed after writing about Tibet, and didn’t take any foreign media interviews, why are you accepting interviews now?
Chang Ping: At the time it should be because the newspaper demanded that I don't take any interviews, and I was willing to compromise in order to have the opportunity of staying at the newspaper. This time I have been told to leave the newspaper, naturally I don't have that layer of restraint. Also, I feel more deeply than before that when domestic media doesn't have any information, foreign reporting is very important.

Danwei: I heard you had future plans to write books?
Chang Ping: I have not decided yet my work plans for the future. The only thing I can be sure of is that I will continue to write, and I will even consider writing as my career. In the past few years many publishers have asked to publish a collection of work, and I also have a plan to write a new book, but it has been delayed by my current affairs columns. After a series of delays, I hope that I can finish the projects soon.

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