Literary Festival Highlights Repression in China

Literary Festival Highlights Repression in China
Writer Salman Rushdie in a file photo from an event in London last year. Rushdie was part of a panel of writers in New York on Friday calling for freedom of expression in China. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

NEW YORK--An annual literary festival, PEN World Voices, is putting censorship in China on center stage.

Internationally famous writers and dissidents including Salman Rushdie, Chen Guangchen, Yu Jie, Peter Godwin and others were on hand in New York City for an intimate panel discussion on how people’s freedom of expression is being strangled in China.

“Over the years, many governments and non-governmental organizations, big companies and tycoons have given in to the Chinese government’s soft and hard measures,” said Chinese writer Yu Jie during the event. “They are only concerned about doing business with China and pretend that they don’t see the increasingly serious human rights problems.”

A PEN staffer talks about Friday’s event in New York City launching a new report about freedom of expression in China.

The weeklong World Voices festival is put on by the PEN America Center and takes place at various locales throughout New York City. On Friday, the international arm of PEN released the report “Creativity and Constraint in Today’s China.”

The report documents five years of collaborative research from PEN members inside and outside of China on freedom of expression repression.

First-hand accounts of what life under the eye of Chinese censors is like are illustrated through 10 essays by China’s leading dissident writers. It was released on World Press Freedom Day, the same day the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a new list of their “predators of freedom.”

According to RSF the list includes “presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers.” Among the five new predators that have been added to the list is the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

For more information and a copy of the PEN report, visit their website.