BEIJING, DEC. 8 -- Liu Binyan, China's best known journalist and a symbol of moral integrity for many of the country's university students, said today that he is again being asked to write articles after more than a year when no one dared print his work.
But Liu, who was expelled from the Communist Party in January, said that while he wants to travel abroad next year, final permission has not yet been granted. In a telephone interview, the controversial writer also said he had no information to confirm reports that his party membership might be restored.
What appears to be a slow, partial rehabilitation is a result of leadership changes announced at the 13th Communist Party Congress in October, Liu said. Until recently, Liu refused to give interviews to foreign journalists.
He said three magazines had offered to publish collections of his work, but had so far failed to do so. But the magazine People's Literature assured him that it would publish a new article that he is preparing for its February issue, he said.
"I asked them whether they would dare to publish it, and they said 'yes,' " Liu said. "I've been invited to write stories for seven or eight magazines."
Liu said he also intended to accept a longstanding invitation from Harvard University to join its Nieman Foundation program for journalists, starting early next year.
At the congress, party ideologue Deng Liqun, who is detested by many writers, failed to obtain enough votes to retain his place on the party's Central Committee. Some intellectuals consider the downfall of Deng Liqun, who is no relation to top leader Deng Xiaoping, to have been the most important development to occur at the congress.
Liu was expelled from the party after being accused of attacking Marxism and vilifying the party. He was one of three prominent intellectuals thrown out as a result of a party campaign against "bourgeois liberalization," or western democratic ideas.
After his rehabilitation from an earlier purge in 1979, Liu became known as the leading critic of corruption in the party. He specializes in fictionalized investigative reports.
In his most famous work, "People or Monsters?," published in 1979, Liu described how a middle-aged party official in northeastern China embezzled funds and used her official connections to amass a fortune.
According to a confidential party document, Deng Xiaoping early this year singled out Liu for criticism along with the two other intellectuals who were expelled from the party at the time.
But the recent party congress appears to have given Liu and some other intellectuals a new chance.
A member of a research institute in Beijing said the retirement following the congress of Deng Liqun and a number of elderly leaders considered to be conservatives had created a sense of optimism among some intellectuals. The researcher said a number of leading members of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences met two weeks after the congress to discuss the results, and decided they had cause to celebrate.
Among those present, he said, was Su Shaozhi, former director of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung Thought. Su was forced to resign his position as head of the institute after being accused of perpetrating bourgeois liberal ideas about democracy. He had called for a system of checks and balances to limit the powers of the party.
Su was one of the first to propose the idea that China is now in the primary stage of socialism, an idea that has now been espoused by party chief Zhao Ziyang and accepted as the official line.
Reached by telephone, Su said the atmosphere was much better after the party congress, but that he was still not in a position to give an interview.
Fang Lizhi, a noted astrophysicist who was expelled from the party in January, said he could not comment about the party congress. But friends said Fang was moderately positive about the results.