Yu Jianrong, director of the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has championed social causes through social media. In 2011, he ran a Weibo campaign in which he asked netizens to post photos of child beggars they encountered on the street, reuniting at least one mother with her kidnapped son. This year, Yu has asked “weibers” to post photos of luxury cars sporting military license plates, adding to the pressure that has lead to a clean-up effort.
Now Yu is using Weibo to expose the censorship of his latest book. The publisher’s notice:
China Radio & Television Publishing House
Letter Concerning the Halted Publication of Yu Jianrong’s Book Father’s Wandering: Panorama on a Public Intellectual
Wuta International Cultural Development (Beijing) Ltd.:
Upon receipt of notice from the State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, Yu Jianrong’s Father’s Wandering: Panorama on a Public Intellectual may not be published for the time being. The book’s ISBN (978-7-5043-6884-3) and CIP (2013 No. 075663) have been invalidated. We now inform you that upon invalidation of this book’s bar code and CIP, the publication contract is revoked, and all publishing activities are halted.
Office of the Editor-in-Chief, China Radio & Television Publishing House
April 24, 2013
Yu did indeed respond, publicly:
@于建嵘: Who knows the name and contact information for the bureau chief of the General Administration on Press and Publication (GAPP)? I want to treat him (or her) to a cup of coffee and a constitutional study session, where we can also discuss Secretary Xi’s Chinese Dream.
Some followers attest that Yu’s “sensitivity“–his focus on social justice–undermined his book’s debut:
@余胜海 [Please Don’t Smother Our “Chinese Dream”] When I learned about the ban on Professor Yu Jianrong’s new book Father’s Wandering, I was startled. According to the China Radio & Television Publishing House’s @贺雄飞’s description, the reason is “because Yu Jianrong is a sensitive person.” I can’t help but ask, what is a “sensitive person?” What legal provisions prevent a “sensitive person” from publishing? Micro-comment: The government is not smothering just one book, but smothering our “Chinese Dream.”
Yu asked netizens to explain:
@于建嵘: Who can tell me: what kind of person is a sensitive person?
And explain they did:
@孤狼莫三: People who don’t kiss ass and who pick the scabs off diseased scalps. Those are all sensitive people.
@曾勋微博: Community leaders and I regard Teacher Yu and his writings with the utmost respect. It is truly baffling, how a public intellectual who draws strength and wisdom from the lowest rung of society can become a sensitive person. A phone call can bring down the world, and they don’t need any sort of justification. The right of citizens to publish is written in the constitution, but how far is the constitution from us? Remember this aborted book. We’ve still many roads to walk down.
@卫志民1988: Actually, Yu Jianrong has basically no influence, and won’t be able to sell many books anyway. This notice is unnecessary, and in fact is a hard sell at Yu’s convenience. I suggest the notice be repealed, lest the masses think it’s just part of the publisher’s marketing campaign. Don’t let public intellectuals benefit at others’ expense, am I right?
柴_学斌: Quick, look at Yu Jianrong’s Weibo. Teacher Yu is good; if you’re fortunate, you will see. I want to buy your book. If possible, please reply. I am curious what content kept your book from being published. Perhaps you truly are a “sensitive person.”
海南梁山: [“Chinese Dream”] Publication of Professor Yu’s new book Father’s Wanderers was halted. It has been reported that GAPP’s reason for blocking publication is “because Yu Jianrong is a sensitive person.” Micro-comment: To borrow Professor Kong’s words: “Go run to your mom–damn your mom–fuck your mom!” Do the three characters in Yu Jianrong’s name have the sensitivity of a corrupt official? Do they have the sensitivity of the three public expenditures? Of stability maintenance? Why don’t we kill the corrupt officials, forbid the three expenditures, and stop stability maintenance!
作者张宇龙: Recently I heard that Teacher Yu’s book was censored. Jeez! If there’s a problem, man up and face it. If you don’t admit to flaws, how can you correct them? Believe me, the more the country and the government behave like this, the louder people’s complaints will get. You fail and then don’t let anyone talk about it. What gives!
李百味五世: Authorities are brimming with “confidence in the path,” “confidence in the theory,” and “confidence in the system,” but they’re scared to publish a few books, scared to print a few thousand booklets. What “confidence” indeed.
@贺雄飞: Before, it was Teacher Yu helping petitioners formulate their statements. Today, Teacher Yu strives for press freedom for himself and the Chinese people. This matter is destined to go down in history alongside the “Southern Weekly Incident.” Teacher Yu, it’s up to you. You have my full support.
Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Josh Rudolph.