updated 4/20/2004 8:39:30 AM ET 2004-04-20T12:39:30

A government spokesman Tuesday dismissed suggestions that China censored a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney during a recent visit, saying any deletion of remarks was due to editing in the state media.

Cheney’s April 15 speech to students at Shanghai’s Fudan University was broadcast live on state-run television at the insistence of U.S. officials following negotiations with the Chinese side, said a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Beijing, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the official Chinese transcript of Cheney’s remarks published in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper deleted references to political freedom and other issues that the Beijing government prefers not to discuss.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Tuesday that he had no knowledge of the edited transcript. “I don’t know where you got this information,” he said.

Kong said that Cheney’s speech was broadcast live and “correspondents may have edited the remarks” after is was finished.

State-run media
All media in China are run by the state and do not publish criticism of the leadership or report on any topics that don’t have government approval.

In one segment of his speech, Cheney spoke of “rising prosperity and expanding political freedom” across Asia. But the Chinese transcript refers only to “rising prosperity.”

Cheney also said that when people experience economic liberty they “desire greater freedom in expressing their views and choosing their leaders” — comments that weren’t included in the Chinese version.

The Chinese transcript also excludes Cheney’s support for the Taiwan Relations Act, a U.S. law that requires Washington to supply the island with defensive weapons. China insists self-ruling Taiwan is part of Chinese territory and has called on the United States to stop arming it.

An editor at the People’s Daily who gave only her surname, Chen, said: “There was no censorship at all.” She said the transcript was based on a simultaneous translation.

Last year, the Chinese translation of Hillary Clinton’s best-selling memoirs “Living History” drew harsh criticism when it became clear that several passages about China had been excised or rewritten.

Simon & Schuster learned in September that a government-backed company, Yilin Press, removed references in the book to the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and changed Clinton’s comments about Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu.

Yilin sent an apologetic letter, saying the company had to rush the Chinese version to stores to compete with counterfeit versions sold by street peddlers.

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