BEIJING, JUNE 13 -- China today announced the ouster of several key officials in charge of arts and broadcasting, apparently completing a purge of the country's vast cultural bureaucracy that began after last year's crackdown on the student-led democracy movement.
According to a terse report carried by the People's Daily, China's leading Communist Party newspaper, two vice ministers of culture and a vice minister of radio, film, and television were removed from their posts.
Diplomats who follow cultural affairs said the ousters had been in the making for several months and follow sweeping changes made at all levels of the Ministry of Culture in the aftermath of last year's crackdown.
The head of the Ministry of Culture, Wang Meng, a non-orthodox writer and administrator, was ousted last September and replaced by He Jingzhi, a poet, propagandist and ideological hard-liner. Chinese sources with access to internal Communist Party documents said at the time that party investigators searching for cultural workers tainted by "bourgeois liberalism," or Western political ideas, had encountered resistance from officials at the Ministry of Culture.
The sources said the Ministry of Culture was among a half-dozen central organizations not trusted by China's leaders. Many officials at the ministry are known to have supported the student-led popular uprising that challenged the party leadership last spring.
Among those ousted was vice minister of culture Ying Ruocheng, a well-known, liberal-minded actor who once played Willy Loman in a Chinese adaptation of Arthur Miller's play, "Death of a Salesman."
Also dismissed was Chen Haosu, vice minister of radio, film and television. Chen is not known as a liberal but is apparently being held responsible for having allowed films to be made that exposed the dark side of Chinese society.
China's economic reforms, instituted a decade ago, were followed by a limited liberalization in the arts. The increased freedom allowed to artists, writers and filmmakers unleashed a small-scale renaissance. During the second half of the 1980s, Chinese novelists and filmmakers explored the boundaries of the party's permissiveness. Pioneering works examined China's past, its contemporary culture and the search for new values in a society devoid of ideals.
Films shot last year before the crackdown depicted the alienation of Chinese youth from traditional and socialist beliefs. In 1988, the government's television network broadcast a pessimistic and controversial six-part television series that portrayed China as a decaying civilization, provoking a debate over the country's backwardness.