Pushing China’s Limits on Web, if Not on Paper

The New York Times profiles author Murong Xuecun and the ways he is using the Internet to push the limits of censorship:

Murong Xuecun (moo-rong shweh-tswen) is the pen name of Hao Qun. At 37, he is among the most famous of a wave of Chinese writers who have become publishing sensations in the past decade because of their canny use of the Internet.

Mr. Murong’s books are racy and violent and nihilistic, with tales of businessmen and officials engaging in bribe-taking, brawling, drinking, gambling and cavorting with prostitutes in China’s booming cities. He is a laureate of corruption, and his friends have introduced him at dinner parties as a writer of pornography.

That his books are published at all in China shows how the industry, once carefully controlled by the state, has become more market-driven.

But Mr. Murong’s prose inevitably runs up against censorship, which the Chinese Communist Party is intent on maintaining despite the publishing industry’s gradual changes. Mr. Murong says he is a “word criminal” in the eyes of the state, and a “coward” in his own eyes for engaging in self-censorship. His growing frustrations have pushed him to become one of the most vocal critics of censorship in China. After zipping his mouth in Beijing last November, he delivered his banned speech three months later in Hong Kong. He also discussed the issue last weekend in New York at the Asia Society.

Murong Xuecun has been among the activists and others who have traveled to Dongshigu, Shandong to attempt to visit activist Chen Guangcheng, who is under a stringent form of house arrest. Read more about his account of his visit here. And read more by and about Murong via CDT.