Chinese Communists Fear the Magna Carta
(p. A5) HONG KONG -- China's leaders have long behaved as if nothing could daunt them. But an 800-year-old document written in Latin on sheepskin may have them running scared.
. . .
It is not clear why the public showing was moved off the Renmin University campus. But Magna Carta is widely considered a cornerstone for constitutional government in Britain and the United States, and such a system is inimical to China's leaders, who view "constitutionalism" as a threat to Communist Party rule.
In 2013, the party issued its "seven unmentionables" -- taboo topics for its members. The first unmentionable is promoting Western-style constitutional democracy. The Chinese characters for "Magna Carta" are censored in web searches on Sina Weibo, the country's Twitter-like social media site.
Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident, said he was not surprised that the exhibit had been moved off the campus. He said that Renmin University had close ties to the Communist Party's training academy and that the principles the document stood for were contrary to the party's. More important, he said, Chinese leaders may have been concerned that the exhibit would be popular and that "many students would flock there."
"They fear that such ideology and historical material will penetrate deep into the students' hearts," Mr. Hu said.
. . .
Magna Carta has been the subject of several academic conferences and lectures in China this year, including two at Renmin University. One doctoral student in history who knows people at the museum said that the school had canceled the exhibit on orders of the Ministry of Education.
"To get kind of wound up about an old document like the Magna Carta? They're a little bit brittle and fragile, aren't they, Chinese leaders?" said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat who was stationed in Beijing and now serves as director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney in Australia. "Poor dears."
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article was dated OCT. 14, 2015, and had the title "Magna Carta Exhibition in China Is Abruptly Moved From University.")