Brother objects to new book of the last emperor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2006, 12:00am

The brother of China's last emperor, Pu Yi , has called for an expanded version of his late sibling's autobiography to be withdrawn from sale, saying it violates his family's privacy and copyright.

The updated version of From Emperor to Citizen hit the mainland book market about 10 days ago, but Li Yuan , a representative of Pu Yi's brother, Pu Ren , said the publisher, Qunzhong Publishing House, did not ask Pu Ren's permission to release the new edition. The book was still on sale yesterday.

The original version was published in 1964 and covers Pu Yi's life from his early years to his official pardon and time in Beijing as an ordinary citizen.

The new book contains about 160,000 additional characters, including an account of the cover-up surrounding the death of an illegitimate child born to Pu Yi's adulteress wife, Wan Rong . Pu Yi admits the baby was murdered.

After a decade of legal disputes, the Beijing Supreme People's Court ruled in 1996 that Pu Yi was the copyright owner of the book, despite claims that many historians had helped him write and edit it.

Ms Li said now that both Pu Yi and Li Shuxian , his civilian wife, were dead, Pu Ren should enjoy the rights to the book's publication and should have been consulted about the updated version.

'The publishing house did not ask for Pu Ren's opinion. This is a violation of copyright and disrespectful to the family,' she said, adding the book violated the privacy of Pu Yi and Wan Rong by detailing Wan's infidelity and Pu Yi's knowledge of the child's death.

The controversial areas were included in Pu Yi's original manuscript but Ms Li said the author agreed to delete the sections from the 1964 edition. She said the matters were private and should not be published.

She requested the book be pulled off shop shelves and the publishing house apologise and return Pu Yi's manuscript to the family.

'We will not exclude the possibility of legal action,' she said.

Qunzhong Publishing House vice-president Liu Can said: 'We strictly complied with the procedures and regulations in publishing the book. And we published the book out of responsibility to the nation, history, readers and Pu Yi himself.'