Chinese Writer Liao Yiwu Barred From Traveling

by    /  May 18, 2011  / 2 Comments

Chinese Writer Liao Yiwu
Photo: FOCUS Magazin

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently banned world-renowned writer Liao Yiwu from attending the Sydney Writer’s Festival in Australia, where he was scheduled to read from his internationally acclaimed book The Corpse Walker, which examines the lives of the underclass in China.

This is not the first time Liao has been barred from travel.

Since 1999, the CCP has denied Liao’s requests for exit visas 14 times, preventing him from attending literary festivals in Germany, Japan, the United States and other locations. Last month, the CCP also prevented Liao, who is a board member for the Independent Chinese PEN Center, from traveling to the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York where he was to participate on a panel entitled “China in Two Acts.”

Such travel prohibitions are part of the Chinese government’s increasing efforts to suppress creative voices throughout the country—a suppression Liao has experienced for decades.

In 1990, after composing his famous epic poem “Massacre,” which condemned the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings, Liao was imprisoned for four years. And while published in several languages, Liao’s works are banned in China. In fact, PEN American Center has reported that the Chinese government recently asked Liao to sign an agreement that he would “no longer seek to publish his ‘illegal’ works overseas.”

PEN also claims that at least 49 Chinese writers, artists and dissidents are “in prison, detained, or put under house arrest.” In the list of detentions are Chinese intellectual and activist Liu Xiaobo, who was not permitted to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo last year, and dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose disappearance brought worldwide attention to the government’s crackdown on free expression.

About the Author

Madeleine Barnes is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in places like The Rattling Wall, Weave Magazine, Open Thread, The Albion Review, Allegheny Review, 5AM, and North Central Review. She is the recipient of the Borders Open Door Poetry Prize, the Princeton Poetry Prize, and the Women's Press Club award for journalism. In the fall she will travel to Trinity College Dublin to pursue a Masters of Philosophy in Creative Writing.

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  • Robert Barnes

    Excellent article. Keep up the good work of letting the world know that writers are being silenced in China.

  • Edye Pucciarelli

    Denied 14 times? Unbelievable. This is a topic that is not given enough of our attention. Without writers and the arts what does this world have? Such an injustice to the people of China.