17 September 2019
Veteran editor Zuo Fang says it's difficult to predict when China will have full press freedom. Photo: China Daily
Veteran editor Zuo Fang says it's difficult to predict when China will have full press freedom. Photo: China Daily

Press freedom a long haul in China: Zuo Fang

Press freedom in China is a very long journey and it is hard to say when it can be achieved, according to Southern Weekly founder Zuo Fang.

“I am pessimistic, so I won’t dream of it,” Zuo said. “I am sure I cannot see the country turning modern even if I live until 90 years of age,” Apple Daily quoted him as saying in an interview.

That said, the media veteran pointed out that he still has “hopes for China”. 

“Hong Kong people seldom mention political issues to me as the society is stable and politics is not their business. But in China, politics affects everyone — your relatives, if not you,” Zuo was quoted as saying in a interview given before July 1.

People’s political awareness is growing, he said, adding that Southern Weekly is known to “tell the truth”. 

US President Barack Obama agreed to be interviewed by Southern Weekly “because they know we dare to tell the truth, and so was the case with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Zuo said.

“However, part of Obama’s interview on human rights had to be muted… it was unavoidable,” he said.

China’s political reform is a long-haul process, the renowned editor said.

“If President Xi Jinping can complete all his promises, he will be one of the greatest people in the Party. If not, China may experience internal chaos,” he said.

Zuo agreed with a Ta Kung Pao reporter who had said that “you cannot request the Communist Party to give you press freedom, as the freedom is the product of a developed society.”

However, he treated the break of Xinhua fonts and People’s Daily’s writing style as a big leap in press freedom. Press freedom is like producing wine; the bottle is the format and wine is freedom, he said.

“When there is chance in the future, I will pour down the wine, now I just have to produce a nice bottle”.

While most media controlled by the Communist Party do not care about their readership, Southern Weekly is a market-driven one and tries to meet the needs of its readers.

Zuo had visited Hong Kong recently to promote his new book.

“I want to unveil the failure of former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin’s utopia social reform movement with my entire experience,” the report quoted Zuo as saying.

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