China Steps Up Crackdown on Supporters of Hong Kong Protests

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Police cordon off an area where pro-democracy demonstrators have gathered in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2014.
Police cordon off an area where pro-democracy demonstrators have gathered in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2014.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has stepped up action in mainland China against anyone showing public support for Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations, detaining activists on public order charges and censoring authors.

China's media regulatory body has now issued an internal notice requiring that books by Chinese-American author Yu Ying-shih and Taiwan writer Giddens Ko, known by his pen-name "Nine Knives," be taken off the shelves of all booksellers, according to social media posts and an official media commentary on Monday.

Also listed as being on the publishing blacklist were Zheng Shiping, known by his pen-name "Ye Fu," Mao Yushi, outspoken Beijing University legal expert Zhang Qianfan, pro-democracy activist Chen Ziming, and Hong Kong commentator Leung Man-tao.

Yu has been outspoken in his support for the “Sunflower” student protest movement that occupied Taiwan's legislature in March, and has openly encouraged Hong Kong students' participation in the Occupy Central movement, which entered its third week on Monday.

In what online comments have compared to a Qin dynasty book-burning campaign targeting Confucian writings and scholars, the blacklist ensures that no one on the list can now be published in mainland China.

"Some on the list are foreign nationals but active in Chinese politics, including openly supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement or 'Taiwan independence,'" the Global Times newspaper, which has close ties with party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said in a commentary on Monday.

"Some are Chinese mainland scholars but are opposed to the country's political system," it said.

'Push-back' warning

It said the authors concerned should be prepared for "push-back" when adopting views that oppose the government.

"If one has positioned himself at odds to the country's mainstream political path, he shouldn't expect his influence to keep on rising without disruption," the paper said.

Taiwan current affairs commentator Chen Yuen-chun said that those on the list are among the best contemporary writers in the Chinese language.

"Nowadays, [writers] can't touch upon anything to do with democracy, freedom, universal or humanitarian values, or human rights," Chen said, adding, "In the past it was possible to allude to such things in a roundabout manner, but there's not even room to do that now."

She said the authors on the list are all regarded as very moderate in their views.

According to Taiwan-based former Chinese media commentator Xiao Shu, the Chinese government directives were sparked by comments by China Academy for Social Sciences (CASS) president Wang Weiguang, who has called for a renewed "class struggle."

"We're nearly back to the age of the Cultural Revolution [1966-1976] now, as it was under the direction of [hard-line Gang of Four member] Zhang Chunqiao," Xiao said.

"If things continue this way, I think it will mean that the Cultural Revolution has returned, in the form of utter domination in the realm of ideology, and the dictatorship of the proletariat," he said.

"Such is the political philosophy of the Communist Party."

Activists detained

Meanwhile, authorities in the Chinese capital detained two activists who had traveled to Hong Kong to join the protests, Agence France-Presse reported.

Zhang Xiuhua and Li Lirong were detained by police last week on charges of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" after they gave interviews to a foreign media organization while at a mass rally.

Chinese authorities have detained more than 40 people nationwide in the last two weeks for openly supporting the Occupy movement in Hong Kong.

And a Chinese scholar and rights advocate who founded the influential nongovernmental Transition Institute think tank has been detained on similar charges, his lawyer said.

Guo Yushan played a key role in the escape from house arrest of blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng in 2012, and has been supportive of the Occupy movement.

But his lawyer Xia Lin said the reasons behind his detention on a generic charge of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" were still unclear on Monday.

"We aren't really sure, and his family don't know either," Xia said.

Measured, moderate

Guo was taken from his home in the early hours of Oct. 9, and his home searched and belongings confiscated.

"His family received the notification [of his criminal detention] in the evening of Oct. 9," Xia said. "He had been initially taken away on the pretext of a summons for questioning."

Xiao said Guo had always been a measured and moderate critic of government policy, and had carried out his scholarly activities entirely within the law.

He said political tensions in China are on a knife-edge as Occupy protesters continue to block Hong Kong streets ahead of an annual party meeting.

"I think things are getting more and more crazy because the Fourth Plenum [of the 18th Party Congress] is nearly here," Xiao said.

"These next two weeks will be the craziest of all," he said.

Reported by Luo Bote and Dai Weisen for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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