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Chinese Radio Station in Hot Water

August 4, 2000

BEIJING (AP) _ A radio station in south China is in turmoil after its popular call-in program broadcast a listener’s statement that the ruling Communist Party should relinquish power, a rights group said Friday.

Executives of the state-run Guangdong People’s Radio Station have met daily to discuss the July 27 incident, and the station’s director, Ceng Guangxing, could be forced to step down, said the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

The show ``Today’s Hotline″ was broadcasting live nationwide and abroad via satellite during its prime-time early evening slot when a listener phoned in with strong comments about China’s endemic corruption, the Hong Kong-based center said.

Though the station has a time delay for deleting obscene or politically sensitive comments, censors failed to respond when the caller said the only way to cure the situation was for the Communist Party to give up its 50-year grip on power, the center said.

It was not known who the caller was or where he called from.

Although ``Today’s Hotline″ will continue to be broadcast, at least one editor at the station will be fired over the incident, the center said, quoting unidentified sources within the station.

Station employees contacted by telephone declined to comment on the report.

Unable to entirely control new media such as the Internet, China’s authoritarian rulers have been forced to permit greater discussion of social ills such as graft and unemployment. But direct, public calls for the Communist Party to step down or allow multiparty rule are taboo.

Concerned that corruption is eroding their public support, Chinese leaders have recently staged several prosecutions of high-level party officials, including the death sentence handed down this week to former national legislature deputy chief Cheng Kejie.

Update hourly