(July 23, 2011) Dai Qing was among several writers blocked from attending a discussion on free expression held by the international writers’ group, PEN, in Beijing.
Beijing bars writers from a literary celebration, continuing a crackdown
The New York Times
July 23, 2011
BEIJING — For Chinese authors who join the international writers’ organization PEN, membership would appear to have very few privileges. Many of its members are subjected to frequent harassment; four of them are currently in prison, including one of its founders, Liu Xiaobo, the essayist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate serving 11 years for subversion. All told, the group counts 40 journalists, novelists and historians imprisoned because of their writings.
On Saturday, the authorities once again demonstrated their displeasure with the organization by barring three writers from joining Independent Chinese PEN Center’s 10th anniversary celebration in Hong Kong. Those prevented from attending were Zhuang Daohe, a Hangzhou lawyer and essayist; Jiao Guobiao, a Beijing journalism professor who lost his job after writing a critique of the Communist Party; and Cui Weiping, a poet and film scholar who was to receive an award on Saturday.
Mr. Jiao, like the others, had bought a plane ticket but was prevented from leaving his apartment by a contingent of security agents. “I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this,” Mr. Jiao said in an interview via Skype on Saturday. “It’s getting worse and worse.”
Although writers who refuse to conform to government restrictions have long been persecuted in China, conditions have worsened since February, when the Communist Party began a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent prompted by fears that the pro-democracy protests in the Arab world could spread to China.
Dozens of rights lawyers and critics have been detained, among them the artist Ai Weiwei, who spent nearly three months in custody. The government has accused Mr. Ai of tax evasion, but conventional wisdom suggests his more urgent crime was the frequent and unvarnished criticism he directed at the Communist Party. Since his conditional release last month, Mr. Ai has been conspicuously silent.