July 6, 2010
Author Is Threatened Over Book on Chinese Premier
By MICHAEL WINES
BEIJING — A bestselling Chinese author and democracy activist who was detained by security agents on Monday says the agents threatened to imprison him should he proceed with plans to publish a book criticizing Wen Jiabao, China’s premier.
The author, Yu Jie, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that he still intends to publish the book, titled “China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao,” by autumn. Because Mr. Yu’s works are banned in mainland China, he said, he is negotiating with a Hong Kong publisher.
Mr. Yu, 36, said he was questioned for four hours on Monday by police officers and agents of Beijing’s public security bureau who specialize in dealing with political dissidents. One security agent “told me that Wen Jiabao is not some ordinary guy,” he said, “and my criticism against him will be considered as harming state security and the national interest.”
“If you insist on publishing this book,” he said he was told, “you will probably end up like Liu Xiaobo*1, who suffered imprisonment of many years.” Mr. Liu, another writer and rights activist, was sentenced last December to 11 years in prison after leading a public movement calling for democratic reforms and an end to Communist Party rule.
Mr. Yu said he was uncertain whether the agents’ threat was serious, but that he willing to go to prison if need be.
“As a writer, I consider freedom of speech an essential part of my life,” he said. “Without it I will be a walking corpse, with no meaning and no value.”
Mr. Yu, who has written 28 books, once was a bestselling writer in mainland China, but his political views have led to a ban on his works. His new book’s “best actor” title draws on a nickname — a sly reference to the Academy Awards honor — that critics have bestowed on Mr. Wen. His populist style and expressions of concern for ordinary people have made Mr. Wen by far the best liked of China’s leaders, but Mr. Yu and other skeptics contend that the image only masks the leadership’s authoritarian bent.
Jonathan Mirsky “China: A maverick dares to challenge the Party line” http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/24/opinion/24iht-edmirsky.html
“The Rise of a New Generation of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals” http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/2004.07.06.html