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Han Han, China’s most popular blogger, shuts down new magazine after one issue, without knowing “who I’ve displeased”

Posted by Author on December 28, 2010

Jonathan Watts in Beijing, The Guardian, Dec. 28, 2010 –

He may be China’s most popular blogger, a champion rally driver, a banned novelist and arguably the coolest man in the country, but Han Han’s attempt to launch a publication for alternative thinkers appears to have collapsed after one issue.

The hero of the chattering classes lost a vocal cord today with the closure of his literary magazine, Party, which has been locked in a struggle with the authorities since it was founded in early 2009.
In a blogpost, Han said the reasons were unclear and cautioned his followers not to assume that the propaganda department was responsible for the failure to reach a second edition.

“Maybe there were too many departments involved and too many people with the power to make a literature magazine into a relic,” he wrote. “I don’t know what was wrong. I don’t know who I’ve displeased. I’m standing in the light while you are in the dark. If we ever met, I will not hold a grudge, but please could you tell me what happened?”

The original plan was to provide “a good art publication with more free and wild writing, but it seems the idea is too good to be true,” Han was said to have written previously.

The fame of a man whose blog has attracted more than 300m hits should have guaranteed success, but his criticism of the government and championing of free expression made potential partners nervous, given the Communist party’s tight controls on the media.

Han reportedly made almost a dozen approaches before finding a business partner, switched the magazine’s name several times and had to change the classification of the periodical because it was deemed as operating in a grey zone.

According to the Southern Weekend newspaper, about 70% of the original content had to be scrapped to secure approval for the publication of the first edition.

Filled with 128 pages of freewheeling content from musicians, film directors and offbeat writers as well as extracts from Han’s novel I Want to Talk to the World, the first edition was repeatedly delayed on the orders of the authorities. But when it was released, it was immensely popular, selling 1.5m copies.

A second edition proved even harder to print, prompting Han to close the operation and dismiss the staff. “The operation was halted several times and censored by provincial officials,” he wrote.”Party faced difficulties and was pulped even after it secured all the approval it needed.”Han has blended racing success – his most recent rally victory was earlier this month — with a sharp wit and criticism of corruption, injustice and incompetence.

“The government wants China to become a great cultural nation, but our leaders are so uncultured,” he told The New York Times earlier this year. “If things continue like this, China will only be known for tea and pandas.”

Thousands of supporters have expressed hopes for a comeback on Chinese websites, such as Sina Weibo. The managing editor of Party said he too expected a return.

“Han Han brought wine for the successful release of the second issue, but now it will be sealed up for a few years,” Ma Yimu wrote online.

– The Guardian

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