Chinese Communist Party Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping has suggested further curbs on the use of wallposters during a so far secret speech to party and government officials Wednesday, usually reliable sources here said.
The sources said Deng told the special meeting, which has not yet been mentioned in the official press, that the National People's Congress, China's parliament, should change the clause in the constitution supporting wallposters. Deng reportedly told the audience in the Great Hall of the People that "some people have abused" the constitutional right to criticize the government in wallposters.
Most of his speech focused on China's prospects in the 1980s.
Since Chinese leaders, led by Deng, loosened restrictions on wallposters and other forms of expression a year ago, they have been alternately tightening and relaxing controls in an effort to satisfy demands for democracy without losing the discipline they feel is necessary for social order.
Last month, posters were banned along a wall near the center of town that had been dubbed "Democracy Wall." A new directive said wallposter writers had to register, be personally responsible for what they wrote and put up posters only in their offices and factories or inside a somewhat remote park, Yuetan, in the western part of the city.
The closing of Democracy Wall stopped the regular Sunday sales here of a number of unofficial magazines, whose editors produced occasional criticisms of government action. One of the most openly anti-government magazines, Explorations, has not reappeared since its editor received a 15-year jail sentence in October, but others have continued to publish.
Editors at the tiny apartment curbicle that serves as the office of another magazine, April 5 Forum, were selling their latest issue, No. 16, to anyone who stopped by today.One of the chief editors, Xu Wenli, said they planned to mimeograph 500, rather than the usual 1,000 copies, since they could no longer sell it at Democracy Wall. He said they had enough regular subscribers to continue operating.
At the office of another unofficial magazine, Today, one of the editors, Mang Ke, said his staff planned to publish a new edition next month. "We have print it ourselves and all of us have other jobs, so it is hard to find the time," he said. With him in the small room were two other editors, one a factory worker and one a university student.
Xu and Mang said other unofficial magazines were still publishing and that they continued to get inquiries fromnew subscribers, both in and out of Peking. Xu said he had been told of new magazines begun outside Peking, including New Era in Anyang and Tide in Baoding.
Visits to other cities and reading of the provincial press indicate that treatment of free expression differs from place to place, with some cities tolerating wallposters, magazines and even harshly critical plays on public stages, and others placing restrictions on may forms of expressions.
Shanghai, for instance, seems to be pursuing a restrictive policy and Canton a fairly liberal one, while Peking appears to be somewhere in between. c
Any attempt by Deng to change the constitution on the question of wallposters would be expected to generate some controversy. The National People's Congress scheduled to meet this year would include some leading writers and artists and some delegates from Hong Kong who have been unusually critical of the decision to restrict expression through such actions as the closing of Democracy Wall.
Deng has pursued many pragmatic, economy-oriented policies that have softened the highly ideological tone of life under the late chairman Mao Tsetung.
Those fervent Mao supporters who remain in the leadership might also oppose changing the wall poster clause since it contains a direct quote from Mao: "Speak out freely, air views fully, hold great debates and write big-character posters."