Saturday, October 25, 2014

China arrests 81-year-old writer critical of Communist Party


China arrests 81-year-old writer critical of Communist Party

Writer Tie Liu has been formally charged with "provocation", as key political meeting in Beijing on rule of law concludes

China's Communist rulers have declared that the country will embrace the
China's Communist rulers have declared that the country will embrace the "rule of law with Chinese characteristics," official media reported after a key party meeting touted as heralding legal reform Photo: GREG BAKER/AFP
An 81-year-old writer and vocal Communist Party critic has been formally charged by Beijing police, his wife and his lawyer said on Thursday, following his detention last month.
Huang Zerong, known by his pen name Tie Liu, was charged with conducting illegal business activities and "provocation", according to his wife, Ren Hengfang, 65. Mr Huang's lawyer announced the charges on Twitter hours before the conclusion of the Communist Party's fourth plenum, a key annual meeting focused this year on the rule of law.
"I can't possibly figure out where the two charges come from," Ms Ren told The Telegraph. "I don't know how the charges were forced onto him, or why." Ms Ren said she suspected one charge derived from her husband's publishing of collections of memoirs written by rightists, a group of intellectuals accused of favouring capitalism, who had been sent to labour camps during China's Cultural Revolution.
Ms Ren added the work wasn't profitmaking. "Some rightists chipped in 100, 200, 300 [yuan] trying to reduce our financial burden," she said. "But simple maths can find the money could hardly cover our expenses."
Mr Huang spent more than 20 years in labour camp after he criticised Chairman Mao as a young journalist. The government cleared his name in 1980. In recent years he has posted essays on the Internet critical of Mao and Liu Yunshan, the Communist Party's propaganda chief, about his restrictions on press freedom.
He appears to be oldest dissident to meet the ire of president Xi Jinping's ongoing campaign against activists, which has led to the arrest of dozens of critical thinkers.
"My husband is nearly 82," Ms Ren said, adding that she is currently barred from leaving the country. "He's not in a good condition. He has high blood pressure, asthma ... I'm really worried about his health."
Communist Party leaders declared on Thursday that China would embrace the "rule of law with Chinese characteristics," at the conclusion of the fourth plenum, an annual, secretive four-day meeting of top officials in Beijing that sets out reforms.
A communique issued at the plenum's close detailed reforms aimed at creating a more predictable legal landscape, while keeping the courts under party control.
State-run media touted the proposals as a landmark moment. There is widespread dissatisfaction with China's vast legal system among the public, who view the judiciary as corrupt and under political sway.
China has around 200,000 judges who are part of the administrative apparatus that governs the country and are as such not independent.

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