See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Book banned prior to printing

Prior to a recent reprinting, ‘A Narrow Escape From Death: My ‘Right-wing’ Life’, a book from retired Xinhua journalist Dai Huang was banned from being published by order of China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), in which Dai recounts the years during which he was cast as a rightist and forced to undergo reform labor.

Civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, one of the biggest names in his field, has agreed to take up Dai's case. Pu's Sohu blog has recently been deleted, but a statement from the lawyer appeared on ‘edgy’ bbs forum WHXF late on the evening of March 21st. Dear friends, Pu begins:

根据行政诉讼法和最高法院司法解释的规定,法院在收到起诉状后应在7日内立案,或者在此期限内裁定不予受理;倘若7天内无法决定是否立案,也应先立案再决定到底是受理还是裁定驳回起诉;若法院在7天内既不立案也不出具不予受理的裁定,原告可直接向上一级法院申诉或者直接起诉。但北京市第二中级法院在3月7日期限届满前,却告知我们还要”等等”,能否受理和出不出不予受理的裁定,都还没有结论。

According to administrative procedural law and the Supreme Court's judicial interpretation of the rules, the Court should process the case within seven days of it being filed, or else rule against hearing the case. In the event that a case cannot be processed within seven days, it should still be processed before a decision is made to accept or reject it. If after seven days the Court has yet to either process the case or make a decision on whether to hear it, the plaintiff can directly appeal to or register the case at the next higher court. But the Beijing #2 Intermediate Court passed the March 7 deadline, and still informed us to “hold on”. Whether or not the case would be ruled admissible remained to be seen.

为此,我和张思之先生于3月8日再次前往该院,提交了《关于及时依法立案的申请》,目的是以此固定2月28日起诉的事实,以防将来空口无凭说不清楚,同时请法官明白依法受理是法院的本分,拒绝受理案件需要给出合法的理由。在这次谈话中,我告诉法院我们对本案极为重视,期望法院也能依法办事,同时也明示了不会无休止地等下去,请法院不要掉以轻心。

For this reason, on March 8 Zhang Sizhi and I returned to the Court and applied for expedition in the processing of the case with the goal of seeing this case, originally filed on February 28, become reality. In order to head off any possible future unclarity, at this time we requested the judge to understand that to hear cases according to the law is the duty of the courts and the refusal to do so requires an appropriate reason. At this time, I told the court that we are placing importance on this case, and expect the court to see the case through in accordance with the law, at the same time explaining that we would not rest until until it was taken care of, asking the court not to take this lightly.

The letter posted onto the bbs seems to have been truncated from an e-mail:

这份文件请见附件二。

Please find document 2 attached.

The next—third—time Pu contacted the court, March 13, was to inquire on the case's progress. Pu says he was told authorization had just been sent down from the Beijing Supreme Court, that it was being researched and we would still have to wait. Around the time the Two Sessions ended, Pu writes, it was announced that the Beijing #2 Intermediate Court had rejected Mr. Dai Huang's case against the GAPP .

On March 20, contact was made with the court for a fourth time, at which point Pu says he was told the reason Mr. Dai Huang's lawsuit was rejected was because Dai “doesn't meet the legal requirements”, with the court saying it felt the object of GAPP's “shot” was not Dai himself, but the China's Writer Union and the Writer's Publishing Houses.

So is Dai qualified to sue the GAPP for ordering his book not to be published? Pu writes:

本案原告戴煌先生是1944年参加新四军的一位老记者,他因耿介直言于1957年被划为右派,其后二十余年间失去自由妻离子散,他把自己的经历写出来这一行为本身,就是对历史负责的态度,况且此书在大陆已两次出版,本不应存在选题被”毙”的可能。出版社受制于邬书林副署长所坦承的”重大选题审查备案程序”循例上报送审,竟然被该署依据语焉不详”有关文件规定”认定为不宜安排出版,这一事实意外昭示了中国大陆出版自由和作家创作自由的种种禁区。

The plaintiff in this case, Mr. Dai Huang, took part in the New Fourth Army as a reporter. As a result of speaking frankly, in 1957 he was cast as right-wing, and for twenty years he lost his freedom and saw his family broken up. The act in itself of him writing out what he experienced is a responsible attitude towards history. In addition, this book has already been published twice on the mainland, and there exists no possible reason why it should be “shot”. The publishing house, bound by Deputy Director Wu Shulin‘s “procedures for investigating major subjects” to to routinely report back for approval, was actually advised not to publish [the book] in accordance with ‘an unclear document regarding regulations’ from the GAPP. This incident inadvertently makes clear the many restrictions on freedoms of publishing and writing in mainland China.

What's crucial about this, Pu says, is that unlike the list of eight books banned recently, Mr. Dai's book was banned before it even came out, making this what Pu sees as one of most notorious examples of pre-emptive censorship ever…As the first case of a mainland writer suing the GAPP administration for illegally banning a book, the significance of this case is especially profound.

Finishing up, Pu writes:

顺便告知各位,近日我们将代理章诒和先生,就1月11日邬书林副署长代表新闻出版总署实施查禁其《伶人往事》的违法行政行为,对该署提起行政诉讼,具体的工作准备正在进行中。

While I'm at it, I'd like to inform everyone that we've recently been representing Mr. Zhang Yihe and as of January 11 have filed a lawsuit against Wu Shulin on behalf of the GAPP for its illegal banning of Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars and preparation is currently underway.

多谢关注。

Thanks for your attention,

浦志强 2007年3月21日于广州

Pu Zhiqiang
March 21, 2007
Guangzhou

Interestingly, the can be read online in its entirety at no cost, is reviewed in some places and is even for sale at Taobao, the Chinese version of eBay.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site