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Free Speech in China

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The Constitution of the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) guarantees China's citizens a full panoply of speech rights. Yet recent events have caused both domestic and foreign observers to wonder whether these guaranties have any substance. Shortly after the highly publicized trial of the dissident author and editor Wei Jingsheng in October, 1979, and the ensuing crackdown on political dissent, "Democracy Wall ' was stripped and its use as a forum for "big-character posters" (dazibao) was prohibited. These events were only a prelude. In June, 1980, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China recommended that the National People's Congress remove the "Four Big Rights" (sida)-the citizens' rights to "speak out freely, air their views fully, hold great debates, and write big-character posters"-from Article 45 of the Constitution, and, in August, 1980, the Congress dutifully abolished them.

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