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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Media -- Loss for hardliners

October 21, 2008

China decides it's safe to show an open face to the world
The Australian
October 21, 2008

FOR a one-party state run by insecure careerists, liberalisation in
China has been remarkable if snail-paced. Life for the Han Chinese at
least, if not the minorities, is less authoritarian than under the
old communists. It's far too illiberal for the sensitivities of
citizens of democratic nations, who see continuing abuses of human
rights and corruption. But the belief that voting for China to hold
the 2008 Olympics would be a step towards more open engagement has
been vindicated.

A glimmer of this progress has emerged with Beijing's decision to
make permanent the easing of rules limiting foreign correspondents,
introduced last year to improve relations with other countries ahead
of the Olympics. Accredited journalists may continue to travel freely
within China - except for Tibet and military zones - and interview
without restrictions. How widely this will operate in practice is
uncertain, given the power of local officials. Nor do these rules
apply to China's media, whose journalists can still find themselves jailed.

As The Australian's China correspondent, Rowan Callick, reported
yesterday, the last-minute extension of the reporting rules is an
indicator of resistance from communist hardliners. So are reports
that China's popular Premier, Wen Jiabao, is under internal attack as
a supposed supporter of democratic values after displaying the common
touch with his public identification with Sichuan earthquake victims.
Change never comes easily in China, but compared with Maoism and
against the sweep of China's history, there is more reason for
optimism than pessimism.
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