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Corruption in China

I’m a banned Chinese novelist not a corrupt spy chief: author Ma Jian tries to clear up news outlets’ confusion

  • Dissident writer’s picture was used in stories about his namesake, who has just been given a life sentence for corruption
  • Author also discloses that his corrupt namesake worked for the agency responsible for banning him from mainland China
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 1:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 9:51pm

Exiled Chinese author Ma Jian joked that his children were puzzled to learn he was a corrupt spymaster after several media outlets used his picture in stories about his namesake who was just sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Not content with sharing my name, the corrupt spy chief Ma Jian, who was vice-minister of the agency responsible for banning me from China, has now stolen my face as well,” Ma wrote on Twitter.

The former deputy head of China’s ministry of state security was on Thursday jailed for life for corruption and insider trading. Both men’s names use the same Chinese characters.

“My children are puzzled to learn that I am not the author of China Dream, who has just made them seaweed dumplings for supper, but am instead a former spymaster who has just been jailed for life for accepting ‘extremely large bribes’,” Ma said in one of several tweets linking to erroneous articles.

One of China’s former top spy chiefs gets life sentence for taking US$15.8 million in bribes, insider trading

The author was amused by the absurdity of the situation.

“Am I a banned novelist dreaming that I’m a corrupt spy chief, or am I a corrupt spy chief dreaming that I’m a banned novelist?” he wrote.

Ma’s books were banned in China after his first novel about a young Chinese journalist’s travels to Tibet was labelled by the government as “spiritual pollution”.

He recently had trouble finding a venue to host his talks during a literary festival in Hong Kong after an arts centre originally slated to hold the talks cancelled the event, but later backtracked.

Ma last visited mainland China six years ago when he was granted special permission to attend his mother’s funeral.

Hong Kong government had nothing to do with earlier decision to cancel Tai Kwun talk by dissident Chinese writer Ma Jian, Carrie Lam says

The documents were signed by three deputy security ministers including one Ma Jian.

“It was a bit Kafkaesque, Ma Jian signing off on Ma Jian,” the writer posted on Twitter.