Author on Trial in China's Jiangxi Over 'Brainwashing' Book

china-fuzhibin-oct302015.jpg Author and filmmaker Fu Zhibin is shown in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Independent Chinese PEN Center

A court in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi on Friday wrapped up a one-day trial of an outspoken author and Internet commentator on charges of "running an illegal business," his lawyer said.

Fu Zhibin, 51, stood trial at the Qingshanhu District People's Court in the provincial capital Nanchang alongside two unnamed print workers and an assistant.

"We argued that Fu Zhibin is not guilty of running an illegal business, because he had taken it through government channels already," Fu's lawyer Zhang Zanning told RFA.

"[We said that] they could have reported it to the police at the time, if they considered the business illegal."

Zhang said the case itself was illegally brought. "The police brought this case themselves, with no reference to the relevant government departments, which is illegal from the point of view of prosecutions," he said.

"Detaining him was also illegal."

But he said he didn't hold out much optimism for the verdict, which the court said would be announced "soon" after the trial ended.

"This is China; it doesn't matter how well you argue your case, they will still find you guilty," Zhang said.

'Trumped-up charges'

As dozens of Fu's friends and supporters showed up outside the court buildings on Friday, Jiangxi-based rights activist Gong Xinhua said the charges against the author were trumped up, because the ruling Chinese Communist Party disapproved of the book's contents.

"Part of this book dealt with ideas of awakening and that sort of thing," Gong said. "The main point is that the book was sensitive, and that's why they brought these charges."

Fu's charge sheet accused him of "publishing A History of Brainwashing in Taiwan, and then selling more than 1,000 copies on Taobao with sales worth more than 90,000 yuan," referring to the Chinese equivalent of eBay.

He is currently being held in the Nanchang No. 1 Detention Center.

A friend of Fu's who attended the trial in the public gallery said his friend had been detained for more than a year before the case was brought to trial, and that he had heard reports that Fu was mistreated while in detention.

He said there was likely a limit to how harsh the sentence could be given the small size of Fu's publishing operation and its limited influence, he said.

"This was a charge of running an illegal business, publishing, worth just 80,000 yuan, which was nothing once you subtract the costs of printing," the friend said. "They couldn't argue that much damage was done by it, either."

Author, filmmaker

Fu was initially detained on Sept. 9, 2014 by Qingshanhu district police, and was indicted by the local state prosecution office in December 2014.

According to the Weiquanwang rights website, Fu is an online author and independent documentary filmmaker who has made films about Tibetan Buddhism.

He has also posted outspoken comments on Chinese social media sites slamming Beijing's repressive policies in the northwestern region of Xinjiang in the wake of a string of violent incidents involving the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by He Ping for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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