Lawyer fights customs over banned books

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2012, 12:00am


A mainland law professor has vowed to continue her legal battle to reclaim books confiscated by Shenzhen customs last year, including the memoirs of Hong Kong political activist Szeto Wah.

In common with many visiting mainlanders, Lin Lihong, a law professor at Wuhan University in Hubei province, loaded up on books when she visited Hong Kong last summer.

But when she returned home on August 20, customs at the Huanggang checkpoint confiscated three of the books which are banned on the mainland: Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet and My West China; Your East Turkestan, both by Beijing-based dissident author Wang Lixiong; and Szeto's River of No Return.

Lin took the Huanggang customs to the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, demanding the books' return and reimbursement of her legal fees and other costs.

In her statement to the court, Lin said she had broken no law by bringing in the books, which were published legally in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. She simply wanted to use the books for her own reading and as a reference aid in teaching, she said.

Citing the constitution and law, Lin argued that citizens' legal private assets should be subject to the protection of the law. The confiscation therefore had no basis in law, and was illegal, she argued.

However, the Shenzhen court ruled against her on December 10. The customs officers had acted properly and legally, it said, rejecting her arguments.

But Lin has not given up. 'I'm preparing my appeal, although I have little hope' of succeeding she said yesterday.

Lin declined to say how much she had spent so far in the case.

In recent years Hong Kong, with its guaranteed freedom of publication, has grown popular among visiting mainlanders as a place to buy books banned on the mainland. The top sellers in recent years include China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao and Zhao Ziyang: Prisoner of the State. They have sold 20,000 and 130,000 copies, respectively, said Bao Pu, publisher of Hong Kong-based New Century Media & Consulting.