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Chinese Government Bans Seven ‘Speak-Not’ Subjects

A prominent Chinese law professor recently revealed in his microblog on popular Twitter-like site Sina Weibo that the Chinese government has imposed a policy on university professors instructing them not to teach seven subjects, including freedom of the press, past mistakes of the communist party, and citizen rights.

Zhang Xuezhong (張雪忠), who teaches at East China University of Political Science and Law, listed the other taboo subjects  in the May 10, 2013 post as universal values, civil society, citizen rights, judicial independence, freedom of the press, past mistakes of the communist party, and the privileged capitalist class.

Zhang's Weibo account was deleted soon after and the term “Seven Speak-Nots” (七不講) has been blocked on major social media in China.

Seven Speak-Nots, image from "Silly Talks" public timeline from Google Plus.

Seven Speak-Nots, image from “Silly Talks” public timeline from Google Plus.

In addition, it was further revealed in a memo on “Concerning the Situation in the Ideological Sphere” (《關於當前意識形態領域情況的通報》) issued by the Central Committee General Office of the Chinese Communist Party on May 13, 2013 that the “Seven Speak-Nots” policy has been incorporated into a policy for online public opinion censorship. The government's latest round of tightening of its control on discourse and ideology has resulted in the shutting down or suspension of the microblog accounts of several prominent liberal intellectuals and political harassment of rights defenders.

Though most of the discussion on the “Seven Speak-Nots” has been deleted, “Silly Talk”(胡言兌)has collected [zh] and resurrected some censored social media posts in Google Plus:

@Stariver:七不讲也没啥阿。不讲普世价值可以讲专制罪恶,不讲新闻自由可以讲道路以目,不讲公民社会可以讲太平天国,不讲公民权利可以讲屁民遭遇,不讲党的历史错误可以讲假的历史功绩,不讲权贵资产阶级可以讲红二代,不讲司法独立可以讲司法黑幕。

@Stariver: Nothing special about the “Seven Speak-Nots”. We don't have to speak about universal value, we can speak about the evil of authoritarianism. If we can't speak about freedom of press, we can speak about communication with our eyes [an ancient Chinese story about freedom of expression under authoritative rule]. If we can't speak about civil society, we can speak about Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. We don't have to speak about citizen rights, we can speak about the experience of fart-izen [citizen deprived of rights]. We don't discuss the mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party but can talk about all the fake historical achievement. If we can't talk about the “privileged capitalist class”, we can talk about “the second generation red”. If judicial independence is banned, we talk about all the dark secrets of our judicial system.

@余喷:五不搞了才惊叫?七不讲了才哗然?我觉得都涉嫌程度不同的装外宾了。早在枪响之后,就该断绝最后一丝的幻想了。枪响是迟钝划线。此后的所有卖萌动作,最多具有策略性的价值。而策略性的东东,难免欺庙堂不着而惑江湖良多。

@Yu Pen: How come we yell about the Five Do-Nots [note: The Five Do-Nots are: do not make a system in which multiple parties govern in turn; do not diversify guiding ideologies; do not “separate the three powers” and create a bicameral system; do not federalize; do not privatize.] and find the “Seven Speak-Nots” surprising? Don't pretend to be outsiders. After the guns fired, we should not have any illusion. We were already too late to draw the line when the guns fired. All gestures after the incident are strategic aiming at cheating people.

@songshinan:#说出党的潜台词#普世价值不要讲,要讲中国特色;新闻自由不要讲,要讲党管媒体不变;公民社会不要讲,要讲社会管理创新;公民权利不要讲,要讲和谐社会;党的历史错误不要讲,要高举毛邓旗帜;权贵资产阶级不要讲,要讲中国梦;司法独立不要讲,要讲政法委办案。

@songshinan: #Spell out the party's hidden agenda# Speak not about universal value, speak about Chinese Character; Speak not about press freedom, speak about never-changing party media; Speak not about civil society, speak about the innovation of social management; Speak not about citizen rights, speak about harmonious society; speak not about the historical mistakes of the communist party, uphold the ideology of Mao and Deng; Speak not about the privileged capitalist class, talk about the China Dream; Speak not about judicial independence, the party's legal committee will handle all the cases.

Some Chinese bloggers have moved to Google Plus to carry on the discussion. Below are some immediate comments from prominent blogger Wen YunChao's post about the policy.

@agan G: 笑话,现在的年轻人早已不属于那个年代,还TM想洗脑!

@agan: This is a joke. Young people nowadays do not belong to the old time, they can't be f**king brainwashed.

@Loby Liang: 唉!他们总结的比我们总结得还好呢!就应该讲这7件事。

@Loby Liang: Well… Their conclusion is much better than ours! These are the subjects we have to talk about.

@Star Dung: 要培养彻底的奴隶

@Star Dung: The want to cultivate obedient slaves.

@Jack ANNA: 我看到了中国共产党发自内心的恐惧。

@Jack ANNA: I see the fear deep down in the communist party's heart.

@沈宏星 哈哈,习近平的尾巴露出来啦。和薄一个样

@Shen Hongxing: Haha, [President] Xi Jinping has revealed his true self. He and Bo Xilai are just the same [Bo is a former CCP leader who upholds Maoist ideology].

@李冠阳 我们今天上历史课老师也说这个了,我们老师说教学内容要与国际接轨,价值观不能接轨

@Li Guanyang: Our history teacher talked about this today. Our teacher said the content of our course has to be in alignment with international society, but our values can't be.

“Fairy outside the wall” (@墙外仙)carefully reposted [zh] Zhang Xuezhong's opinion to get around censorship on a Sina microblog:

如果一个国家总是顽固地拒绝人类社会通行的普世价值,并且迟迟不肯建立以自由、民主和法治为基础的宪政制度,那绝不是因为这个国家有什么特殊的国情,而是因为这个国家有一个特殊的政府:这个政府本身极其败坏和不得人心,以至于根本无法通过公正的法律和诚实的手段,来维持自己的存续!

If a country keeps resisting the universal values that have been shared by the rest of the world and refuses to build a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and rule of law, then this is not due to the distinctive character of the country, but the distinctive character of the government: a corrupted government that can't win people's support and cannot sustain itself with a legal system that upholds justice and honesty.

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