Sci-fi magazine chief sacked in China

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 10:50 hrs

Beijing, Sep 27 (IANS) The chief editor who enraged editorial staff at a highly circulated science fiction magazine in China has been sacked, an official said.

Li Chang, 53, was removed from his posts of president and chief editor of Science Fiction World (SFW) after editors published an open letter claiming he was incompetent and demanding his removal, said Li Dayong, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) branch of the Sichuan Association for Science and Technology (SAST).

Liu Shucheng, vice president of the SFW publishing company, has temporarily taken charge of the magazine, Xinhua quoted Li Dayong as saying.

The removal of an editor because of a public complaint is rare in China where the publication sector is strictly administered by the government, and the president or editor-in-chief of a magazine is appointed by the superior administrative department.

The decision by the SAST, which administers the magazine, was made Aug 30 and was announced on its official micro-blog Sunday, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to post comments in support of the decision on the internet.

The SAST appointed Li Chang SFW's president and chief editor last year.

The editors of the magazine published an open letter on March 21 this year, describing Li Chang as 'unprofessional' and his instructions as 'arbitrary and impracticable'.

The letter was signed by all the editors of SFW and was published under the online ID of 'Rise to Fight'.

It said Li Chang had 'whimsical new ideas -- ordering his Chinese literature editors to write novels themselves instead of writers, foreign language editors to translate novels themselves instead of specialist translators, and art editors to draw pictures themselves instead of artists, which shows he has no idea how to run a magazine.'

The circulation of SFW shrank from 150,000 copies per month when he took over to 130,000 a month before he was suspended March 31, according to a senior editor.

The SFW was established in 1979 to accompany a government campaign to promote science and technology during the reform and opening up drive initiated by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

By introducing works by Western sci-fi masters, including Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark, while cultivating young Chinese writers, it became one of the most popular magazines among young Chinese.

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