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Radio Free Asia: Poet Held in Southern China Over Planned Poetry Anthology Remembering Liu Xiaobo

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Radio Free Asia

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have criminally detained a poet after he compiled an anthology to commemorate late Nobel peace laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died last month of liver cancer in police custody.

Wu Minglang, 49, known by his pen-name Langzi, was detained in Guangdong's provincial capital Guangzhou on Aug. 18 on suspicion of "illegal business activity."

A copy of his initial statement showed that he was interviewed by "law enforcement from the Haizhu District State Administration for Press and Publications, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

Wu Minglang at a police station in Guangzhou
in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
"It is our intention to begin an investigation based on your suspected violation of rules and regulations pertaining to publications," the officer told Wu. "Do you understand?"

"I understand," Wu replied, according to the record, before giving his name, date and city of birth.

"They detained him using charges of illegal business activity," Independent Chinese PEN co-founder Bei Ling told RFA on Tuesday. "It is clear that the Chinese government doesn't want to see any poems commemorating Liu Xiaobo ... published."

'Writer of conscience'

Fellow poet Meng Lang, who had been working on plans for the same anthology alongside Wu, said he is a "writer of conscience."

"In early July, I started to gather together an anthology with the help of my friends who are writers and poets," Meng said. "Langzi was among those who took part."

"Langzi has since been detained because he helped with the editing selection of the poems, as well as writing a poem himself to commemorate Liu Xiaobo," he said.

Meng said he believes the anthology is entirely appropriate, given that Liu was a writer who also wrote poetry.

Gong Xinhua in an undated photo. RFA listener
"The government should encourage this, not suppress it," he said.

A friend of Wu's who asked to remain anonymous said the authorities had yet to issue any formal notification of Wu's detention, however.

"I haven't seen the notification of criminal detention yet because they haven't made it public," the friend said. "I think this has to do with Liu Xiaobo."

Rights activist detained

Meanwhile, authorities in the eastern province of Jiangxi have detained rights activist Gong Xinhua on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble, his friends told RFA.

"They said he is being held under criminal detention ... I heard he was detained in Guangzhou and brought back from there," Zhang Zanning said.

Another associate of Gong's surnamed Yang said he had hoped to find a job in the city.

"I called the police station and they said he is under criminal detention, but that they were planning to have him diagnosed with a mental health problem," he said. "The results of the psychiatric examination aren't out yet, and they haven't sent him to the psychiatric unit yet."

But online posts said Gong is being targeted by the authorities for advocating a more democratic form of government online.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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