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Beijing silences pro-China Briton

London Telegraph | July 12, 2007

A Briton who has spent years trying to convince foreigners through a newsletter that China is unfairly portrayed as repressive by the Western media has been ordered to stop publication by Beijing.

Nick Young claims that he has also been threatened with deportation from China over articles he has edited in the China Development Brief, which monitors social progress and reports on the activities of non-governmental organisations.

About a dozen officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau and the Beijing Statistical Bureau visited the office of the newsletter last week and accused Mr Young of violating the statistics law by conducting "unauthorised surveys". Mr Young has since been ordered to stop publication of the Chinese edition and has been questioned by police.

"I have constantly strived… to encourage foreigners to approach China constructively, looking for ways to co-operate rather than ways to merely criticise," Mr Young said in an email.

"We have been trying to engage in a rational, private conversation with the authorities… for the sake of my Chinese colleagues, [I] do not want it to appear that we were stirring up trouble."

The China Development Brief is read mainly as an electronic newsletter. Mr Young said that the Chinese-language edition, begun in 1999, was even more careful in its handling of sensitive subjects than its English counterpart and that its readership was small, with only about 5,000 subscribers and 7,000 views of its website per day.

Mr Young said he had appealed to international donors, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to persuade the Chinese government to intervene.

"I feel disappointed because I've lived in China for a long time and there are things about China that I love," Mr Young said.

"I've always taken a sympathetic and optimistic view of where China is. I don't feel angry but I feel sad," he said.

The Chinese authorities have not commented on the closure.

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