Chinese Christian refuses to back down on critical book

Published July 14, 2010

Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in China. Photo: Marites N. Sison

Hong Kong
A Chinese Christian intellectual, Yu Jie, is insisting he will not back down on plans to publish a book in Hong Kong critical of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, despite threats from Beijing police.


"I will not submit to the authorities," Yu told ENInews from Beijing on July 10, urging Chinese authorities not to infringe on the freedom of expression of dissenters.


He said he had been summoned to a police station in the Chinese capital on 5 July where he was told not to publish his book and that it might harm national security. Yu said that police had said publishing the book might lead to criminal responsibility.


"Criticism against State leaders should be constitutional," said Yu, a member of an unofficial "house church" in Beijing.


He called on Wen to stop keeping dissenters under surveillance.


His book would be published in Hong Kong in the coming three months, Yu said. In the book, he says Wen is not genuinely interested in political reform, but pretends to show his concern, "just like an actor".


Yu noted that the Lausanne Covenant, a 1974 document drawn up in at a global Christian conference, acknowledges that Christians have the right to participate in political life. His remarks about the Chinese premier were not only an attempt to practise the freedom of expression but were also a means for Christians to pursue social justice, said Yu.


In an open letter released on his blog on July 11, Yu praised human rights activist Joachim Gauck, a former East German dissident who stood as a candidate for the German presidency in June.


As a Lutheran pastor in the northern city of Rostock, Gauck helped to organize protests against East Germany’s then communist rulers in 1989. He then worked as the first head of the authority that deals with the archives of the Stasi, the former East German security service, following the unification of Germany.


Yu said his dream was for the establishment of a similar archive in China.


In its 2010 report, the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said Chinese authorities had "continued to tighten restrictions on freedom of expression."


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