Law & Crime Politics & Protest SinoBeat

Management of ‘defunct’ liberal China magazine threaten legal action after state sponsor breaks into offices

The offices of the liberal Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine were broken into again by its sponsor, the state-run National Academy of Art, according to a statement and a lawyer’s letter from the magazine’s original committee.

The embattled Yanhuang Chunqiu was an outspoken monthly journal discussing Chinese history and politics that was forcibly taken over by the Academy in July. It announced that it would cease publishing mid-July, with publishers issuing an open letter that said any periodicals published under the same title were unrelated to the original editorial committee.

On Wednesday, the magazine issued a statement which said that the Academy sent people to the magazine’s offices in August and September during the night on multiple occasions. They brazenly forced open doors of the financial room and all doors in the office, changing the locks. Afterwards, they forced the property management to delete security footage, according to the statement.

Du Daozheng

Du Daozheng standing in front of calligraphy written by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s father Xi Zhongxun. Photo: Bowen Press.

The inventory transfer procedures were not completed and none of the original staff from the magazine were present, it said.

The magazine’s original deputy editor Wang Junyan told US-backed Voice of America on Thursday: “no matter who it is, forcibly or secretly going into an organisation or a citizen’s house – this kind of action is an illegal action. It should be held accountable by the law.”

On Tuesday, the magazine’s committee issued a lawyer’s letter to the Academy of Art. It asked the it to remove staff at the office, restore its original state, and compensate the committee’s losses, as well as enter into negotiations or legal procedures with the committee. It threatened further legal action “including but not limited to criminal charges” if the Academy did not take action to prevent the situation from worsening.

yanhuang chunqiu lawyers letter

The lawyer’s letter to the Academy. Photo: Twitter.

On July 12, the National Academy of Art removed the magazine’s directors and assigned six new people to take over its management. Several days later, Academy staff broke into the magazine’s offices, seized all the property including bank accounts and changed the password for its website. Its editorial committee tried unsuccessfully to file legal charges against the school for violating previous agreements. On July 17, its publisher announced that the magazine would cease publication.

Yanhuang Chunqiu published a new issue in August, the first under the control of its new editors, and another issue in September.

“Although there is no justice right now, we can wait for it,” the former editorial committee said in its statement.

Management of 'defunct' liberal China magazine threaten legal action after state sponsor breaks into offices