China's Media: Far From Free and Open

In the opinion-page article ``Radio Free Asia: Costly, Counterproductive,'' Sept. 13, the author correctly notes that Western investment in China will have a subversive effect on the Communist government there. But it is a giant leap of faith to suggest that this alone guarantees political openness.

The roundup of dissidents prior to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is evidence of that. The day was ``uneventful'' precisely because the government made clear that it would brook no demonstrations to remind the Chinese people of the horror of June 4, 1989.

It is also true that more information is available in China today than in the darkest days of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's gulag. But that hardly makes China's media open and free. As the United States State Department reports: ``Domestic television and radio broadcasting [in China] remain under party and government control and are used to propagate the currently acceptable ideological line.''

Radio Free Asia is designed neither as an agent provocateur nor as an agent of revolution. Its purpose is to make more information available to the Chinese people about developments within their own society - and permit them to make judgments for themselves. Far from encouraging ``revolution,'' it seeks to catalyze an evolutionary opening of political space that will permit the Chinese to have fundamental rights long denied them by the repressive gerontocracy in Beijing. This objective is supported by numerous Chinese dissidents in this country, including Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan, and Shen Tong, a leader at Tiananmen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Washington United States Senate

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