China forbids Great Famine author accepting Harvard prize

BEIJING: A Chinese journalist says he has been blocked from traveling to accept a Harvard University prize for a 2008 book chronicling the Great Chinese Famine of 1958-1961.

Harvard’s Nieman Fellows in December awarded the Louis M. Lyons Award to Yang Jisheng, a 66-year-old former journalist at the official Xinhua news agency, for a 1,200-page book documenting a decades-long government effort to whitewash what he found to be a man-made disaster that claimed at least 36 million Chinese lives.

Yang said by telephone Tuesday that Xinhua, his former employer, had forbidden him to travel or to speak with foreign media. He did not specify how Xinhua would prevent him from traveling.

In November, Yang accepted a prize in Sweden where he lamented that truth-seekers were “pressured, attacked and slandered.”