TALKING BOOKS

China — Don’t Bring Your Books To Town

“The pen is mightier than the sword” was first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 in his historical play, “Cardinal Richelieu.”

The above quote is not lost on many regimes or governments which over the years have made attempts to ban books from entering their countries.

China, for example, is no exception as it continues to seize books that travelers seek to bring into the country from overseas.

However, one person who wants to put a stop to this is 65-year-old Li Nanyang.

Even though living abroad for the past 25 years, Ms. Li has remained a Chinese citizen.

Ms. Li has filed a lawsuit in Beijing challenging the legality of the airport seizures of copies of a book by her father, Li Rui.

China — Don’t Bring Your BooksHer father is a 98-year-old retired Communist Party official who has reportedly served the party well. Though, according to press reports, he was purged from the leadership several times — including a stretch of about 20 years when he labored in the countryside after challenging policies that led to mass famine in the late 1950s — Mr. Li was rehabilitated after Mao’s death and played a crucial role in restoring to power other party members, some of whom remain influential.

“Li Rui is an elder of the communist Party,” Miss Li reportedly told the press. “If he doesn’t have freedom of speech, who does?

The book in question is a 467-page memoir, “Li Rui’s Oral Account of Past Events,” published in 2013 in Hong Kong.

In the book, Mr. Li candidly describes the disastrous policies of Mao and a crucial meeting in 1959 when opponents tried to stop him. Mr. Li also shares his views on officials he met in his career, including most of the country’s top leaders.

Ms. Li believes that there should be no objection to her father’s book and is pressing the government through the courts to declare their reason for customs confiscation of copies of the book.

“I want people to think less like subjects and more like citizens,” she said.

“I want people to take responsibility for changing China and not wait for higher-ups to reform the system.”

“I don’t expect to win,” she added, “but I want to draw attention to the    custom office’s practices.”

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow

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