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Monday, March 13, 2006

Freedom of Standard Chinese Speech

Economists spouting off in public and criticizing the government? Who would allow that?:

Chat show economist forced off China TV, by Richard McGregor, Financial Times: China has forced one of the country's controversial economic commentators off the air, closing his top-rating programme... Lang Xianping, who is also known as Larry Lang, recorded his last programme at the end of February after being told he did not have the licence issued ... to all television comperes to certify they can speak standard Chinese.

The resort to such creative bureaucratic means to shut down the programme ... is a measure of the authorities' current eagerness to rein in public debate about sensitive economic issues. China uses such licences to ensure that standard Chinese, rather than the country's innumerable dialects, dominates the media and promotes national unity. But such rules would normally be irrelevant in the case of Mr Lang, a Taiwanese-born professor of finance in Hong Kong, who is fluent in Chinese.

Mr Lang was an almost immediate hit after he launched his business chat show on cable TV in Shanghai in 2004. But he generated controversy, unusually not by criticising the excessive state control of the economy, as many of China's pro-market economists have done, sometimes at risk to their careers. Rather, Mr Lang made his name by attacking the sale of state assets at what he said were often fire-sale prices in under-the-table deals to private entrepreneurs.

Mr Lang's tirades against the sale of state assets struck a nerve in a country increasingly concerned about the corruption involved in the rapid accumulation of wealth by some entrepreneurs in recent years. ... Many entrepreneurs attacked by Mr Lang have long attempted to have him reined in, but Shanghai television regulators had resisted such pressures until recently. ...

    Posted by on Monday, March 13, 2006 at 08:04 PM in China, Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (3)

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