Libel Suit Opens Against Authors, Publisher of Banned Book (story in Chinese)

September 17, 2004

According to the China Court Network, the libel trial against Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao, authors of a banned journalistic expose on the exploitative conditions faced by Chinese farmers, opened on August 24. Their book, titled "A Survey of Chinese Farmers," initially generated intense public interest and official praise upon its publication in January 2004, but was banned by government censors a month later, presumably for its detailed reporting on particular local government abuses.

Chen and Wu, along with their publisher, People's Literary Publishing Press are currently defendants in a libel case brought by Zhang Xide, a local official mentioned by name in their book.

According to a report on the trial from Boxun Chinese authorities prohibited reporters from the New York Times and Washington Post from observing the trial, but has allowed reporters from China's state-controlled media to attend.

The South China Morning Post also reported that, although the government has banned the book, pirated copies continue to sell well.