The mainland's chief censor says he found a Taiwanese writer's collection of civil war stories, recently banned by Beijing, to be an interesting read. Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication (Gapp), the mainland's media and publishing watchdog, also said that its much-criticised book censorship regime should be reviewed. It was the first time that a senior mainland official had commented on the book Da Jiang Da Hai 1949 (Big River, Big Sea - Untold Stories of 1949) by Lung Yingtai, a Taiwanese-born University of Hong Kong professor. The book, published in September last year, sold more than 100,000 copies in Taiwan and 10,000 in Hong Kong in its first month of release, but discussions about the book were deemed sensitive and banned on the mainland. There have been reports that mainland customs have confiscated numerous copies of the book at Beijing's airport. But intriguingly, Liu spoke fondly of the book, which documents many heart-wrenching stories of Chinese families broken up by the civil war, including the author's own. 'I've read the book,' Liu said on the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. 'The book includes many interesting details and materials.' He said he did not understand why the book was banned. 'We don't try to impose our ideas on authors nowadays as long as their books are able to reflect the truth about history,' he said. He indicated that the book and many others that had been banned should be allowed to be published on the mainland. 'I don't see any reason to ban any books so long as they are not offensive, against the law and our moral bottom line, or likely to trigger social strife,' Liu said. Although Liu said mainland authorities had become more open-minded in recent years when it came to sensitive historical issues such as the end of the civil war, analysts noted that the ban on the book indicated that was not the case. They said the banning of Lung's book had been in line with Beijing's intensified crackdown on media and internet freedom. But Liu distanced himself from the controversial ban, which has sparked an outcry on the internet. 'It's up to propaganda officials and publishing houses to decide if a book needs to be banned or not and my ministry is not involved,' he said. He said some government departments had used censorship as an excuse to hamper media supervision and avoid public criticism, which had had a negative impact on Beijing's pursuit of social justice. Liu was also critical of mainland customs, for often appearing too rigid when toeing the official censorship line, confiscating books and other publications deemed sensitive. 'It has indeed happened when customs officers were not sure whether those overseas publications were illegal,' he said.