Yesterday, just three days after retiring, Southern Weekly in-house censor Zeng Li died at the age of 61. The story via SCMP:
Zeng Li had become a prominent figure during the weekly’s protest against censorship in January. His farewell letter has been shared on Weibo thousands of times on Thursday and caused widespread soul-searching about the state of the media in China.
“Looking back on the last four years, I made mistakes,” Zeng wrote in his farewell letter, dated March 28.
“I have killed some drafts that I shouldn’t have killed, I have deleted some content that I shouldn’t have deleted, but in the end I woke up, I preferred not to carry out to end my political mission and go against my conscience, I don’t want be a sinner against history.”
The letter is “surely an important document in China’s history,” wrote Academy of Social Sciences scholar Ma Yong.
David Bandurski of China Media Project writes that many Chinese journalists are mourning Zeng’s passing, underscoring the fact that even those engaged in the sordid craft of censorship are not faceless sorcerers who hide behind curtains, but real, actual people, often with a desk in the newsroom, and the ability to laugh, be nuanced, have pangs of conscience.
CMP has more excerpts of Zeng’s letter and reactions to his death.
Confessional last letter of Southern Weekly’s in-house censor days before he died (SCMP)
The death of a news censor (CMP)