Chinese Writer Denied Permission To Leave China

May 10, 2011
Originally published on May 11, 2011 11:04 pm
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As NPR'S Louisa Lim reports from Beijing, this comes amid China's harshest crackdown in years.

LIAO YIWU: (Singing in foreign language)

LOUISA LIM: This is the sound China's preventing the outside world from hearing. It's writer Liao Yiwu performing a poem invoking the deaths in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Back then, he spent four years in prison for a poem titled "Massacre." But he says he's not an activist.

YIWU: (Through Translator) I don't take part in politics. I'm a recorder of China's history and its current situation. I'm writing about those at the bottom of Chinese society, the ordinary people.

LIM: Mr. CHIP ROLLEY (Artistic Director, Sydney Writers' Festival) And lo and behold here the Chinese government is actually confirming our view that what a writer writes is extremely powerful. It's quite an incredible fact, if you think about it.

LIM: Liao Yiwu hasn't been allowed to publish a single word inside China for a decade. He's also been warned not to publish overseas. Despite all this, he's still undeterred.

YIWU: (Through Translator) I think it's already a world record. I've applied to leave China 17 times, and was only successful once. I'm still angry. I'm not a numb person. I'll still keep trying.

LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing.


INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.