Briefings on the Eighth Congress of ICPC and Its Administration Change

Never Ever Put Our Pens Down

Briefings on the Eighth Congress of ICPC and Its Administration Change

ICPC Secretariat

(May 2nd, 2018)

From March 28 to April 9, 2018, the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) held the eighth congress of its membership assembly in its online community. 115 of its 213 voting members were recorded to attend the congress. The membership assembly held four sessions, amended the “Charter of Independent Chinese PEN Center” and the “Independent Chinese PEN Center’s Rules of Procedure of Membership Assembly”, and approved the work report and financial report submitted by the Board of Directors. The Membership Assembly reelected the board of directors according to its Charter. Among 12 candidates, 9 were elected as board members. They are Mr. WANG Jinbo, Ms. Tienchi MARTIN-LIAO, Ms. GAO Yu, Mr. ZHAO Shiying, Mr. HE Depu, Ms. QI Jiazhen, Mr. LI Hai, Ms. LIU Di and Mr. DU Daobin. Among them, seven are based in China. It is worth mentioning that Ms. GAO Yu, a famous dissident who had been jailed three times for freedom of speech, Mr. HE Depu and Mr. WANG Jinbo who were jailed due to founding the Democratic Party of China in the 1990s, have brought in new blood to the Board of Directors. Mr. PAN Yongzhong and Mr. XU Yonghai were elected as alternate board members.

On April 15th, the 8th Board of Directors held its first meeting. “The Board Rules of Order” were revised at the meeting in accordance with new articles of the Charter. Ms. Tienchi MARTIN-LIAO was reelected as the president, while Ms. GAO Yu and Mr. ZHAO Shiying (former secretary-general) were the vice presidents, and Mr. WANG (former deputy secretary-general) was appointed as the secretary-general.

On April 22nd, the 8th Board of Directors held the second meeting to implement the system of divided responsibilities among Board members, appoint three board members to serve as directors of three working groups subordinated to the Board, and approve proposed nominations made by the president and the secretary-general. The daily administration setup was adjusted to include the secretariat and four working committees, and the following appointments were made: Mr. PAN Yongzhong and Mr. YANG Guang as deputy secretary-general, Mr. HE Depu as director and Mr. Yu ZHANG as coordinator of the Writers in Prison and Freedom to Write Committee (WiPC), Ms. Tienchi MARTIN-LIAO as director and Mr. Biao CHEN as coordinator of the Press, Exchange and Translation Committee, Ms. QI Jiazhen as director and Ms. TSOI Wing-Mui as coordinator of the Women Writers’ Committee, and Ms. LIU Di as director and Mr. Lebao WU as coordinator of the Youth Committee. After the meeting, the restructuring of the working committees is in progress.

If pen is the sword for writers, then PEN center is the armor for writers. The new ICPC Board of Directors, having gone through the change of office just like a machine undergone maintenance and service, will rally to have a new start-out. As Winston Churchill remarked: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” What will the newly-built ICPC Board of Directors plan to shape? It can be summarized with two basic parts as follows:

I. The pen is writer’s tongue of soul, and this is the right for every single writer to take up his pen to search for truth. The PEN center is the platform for writers’ free writing. ICPC commits to promote Chinese literature and defend freedom of expression. We will work hard to strengthen literary exchanges between the languages of various nations in the world, to promote friendship and cooperation among writers, to preserve the writers’ freedom of speech, writing and publishing regardless of their political views, to protect writers from political persecutions, and to draw attentions to help the writers who were jailed due to their opinions.

II. ICPC will carry out Dr. Liu Xiaobo’s unfulfilled wishes, use our pens to conduct peaceful and rational enlightenment, facilitate the progress of human rights in China, pursue social fairness and justice, and move towards a China with freedom, democracy and the rule of law to come as early as possible!


Tienchi Martin-Liao, President, and Coordinator of Writers for Peace Committee
E: [email protected], T: +49-221-8015 8705

Biao Chen, Secretary, and Coordinator of Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee
E: [email protected]

Yu Zhang, Coordinator of Writers in Prison Committee
E: [email protected]

Wing Mui Tsoi, Coordinator of Women Writers’ Committee
E: [email protected]

PEN International’s Open Letter: Time for China to release writers, journalists and activists

pen2016Today, on World Human Rights Day, our Pen International community of writers, readers, activists and publishers condemn the Chinese authorities’ sustained and increasing attack on free expression and call for an immediate end to China’s worsening crackdown on fundamental human rights. Continue reading

China: PEN renews its calls to release all writers, journalists and publishers

pen-digital-freedom-logo7 December 2016

RAN 24/16



Ahead of World Human Rights Day, PEN International reiterates its calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all writers, journalists, bloggers and publishers held for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of opinion, expression and association. The number of detained and imprisoned writers in China is among the highest in the world. PEN also calls on the authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without further delay. Continue reading

PEN International Letter to ICPC President Tienchi Martin-Liao


Open letter to Google on reported plans to launch a censored search engine in China

Dear Mr Pichai,

Like many of Google’s own employees, we are extremely concerned by reports that Google is developing a new censored search engine app for the Chinese market. The project, codenamed “Dragonfly”, would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights. The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China.

We support the brave efforts of Google employees who have alerted the public to the existence of Dragonfly, and voiced their concerns about the project and Google’s transparency and oversight processes.

In contrast, company leadership has failed to respond publicly to concerns over Project Dragonfly, stating that it does not comment on “speculation about future plans”. Executives have also refused to answer basic questions about how the company will safeguard the rights of users in China as it seeks to expand its business in the country.

Since Google publicly exited the search market in China in 2010, citing restrictions to freedom of expression online, the Chinese government has strengthened its controls over the internet and intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression. We are therefore calling on Google to:

· Reaffirm the company’s 2010 commitment not to provide censored search engine services in China;

· Disclose its position on censorship in China and what steps, if any, Google is taking to safeguard against human rights violations linked to Project Dragonfly and its other Chinese mobile app offerings;

· Guarantee protections for whistle-blowers and other employees speaking out where they see the company is failing its commitments to human rights.

Our concerns about Dragonfly are set out in detail below.

Freedom of expression and privacy in China and Google’s human rights commitments

It is difficult to see how Google would currently be able to relaunch a search engine service in China in a way that would be compatible with the company’s human rights responsibilities under international standards, or its own commitments. Were it to do so, in other words, there is a high risk that the company would be directly contributing to, or complicit in, human rights violations.

The Chinese government runs one of the world’s most repressive internet censorship and surveillance regimes. Human rights defenders and journalists are routinely arrested and imprisoned solely for expressing their views online. Under the Cybersecurity Law,[1] internet companies operating in China are obliged to censor users’ content in a way that runs counter to international obligations to safeguard the rights of access to information, freedom of expression and privacy. Thousands of websites and social media services in the country remain blocked, and many phrases deemed to be politically sensitive are censored.[2] Chinese law also requires companies to store Chinese users’ data within the country and facilitate surveillance by abusive security agencies.

According to confidential Google documents obtained by The Intercept, the new search app being developed under Project Dragonfly would comply with China’s draconian rules by automatically identifying and filtering websites blocked in China, and “blacklisting sensitive queries”. Offering services through mobile phone apps, including Google’s existing Chinese apps, raises additional concerns because apps enable access to extraordinarily sensitive data. Given the Cybersecurity Law’s data localization and other requirements, it is likely that the company would be enlisted in surveillance abuses and their users’ data would be much more vulnerable to government access.

Google has a responsibility to respect human rights that exists independently of a state’s ability or willingness to fulfil its own human rights obligations.[3] The company’s own Code of Conduct promises to advance users’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression globally. In Google’s AI Principles, published in June, the company pledged not to build “technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights”. The company also commits, through the Global Network Initiative, to conduct human rights due diligence when entering markets or developing new services. Project Dragonfly raises significant, unanswered questions about whether Google is meeting these commitments.

Transparency and human rights due diligence

Google’s refusal to respond substantively to concerns over its reported plans for a Chinese search service falls short of the company’s commitment to accountability and transparency.[4]

In 2010, the human rights community welcomed Google’s announcement that it had “decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on”, citing cyber-attacks against the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists and attempts by the Chinese government to “further limit free speech on the web”.

If Google’s position has indeed changed, then this must be stated publicly, together with a clear explanation of how Google considers it can square such a decision with its responsibilities under international human rights standards and its own corporate values. Without these clarifications, it is difficult not to conclude that Google is now willing to compromise its principles to gain access to the Chinese market.

There also appears to be a broader lack of transparency around due diligence processes at Google. In order to “know and show” that they respect human rights, companies are required under international standards to take steps to identify, prevent and mitigate against adverse impacts linked to their products – and communicate these efforts to key stakeholders and the public.[5] The letter from Google employees published on 16 August 2018 demonstrates that some employees do not feel Google’s processes for implementing its AI Principles and ethical commitments are sufficiently meaningful and transparent.[6]

Protection of whistle-blowers

Google has stated that it cannot respond to questions about Project Dragonfly because reports about the project are based on “leaks”.[7] However, the fact that the information has been publicly disclosed by employees does not lessen its relevance and rights impact.

In relation both to Project Dragonfly and to Google’s involvement in the US government’s drone programme, Project Maven, whistle-blowers have been crucial in bringing ethical concerns over Google’s operations to public attention. The protection of whistle-blowers who disclose information that is clearly in the public interest is grounded in the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.[8] The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises recommend that companies put in place “safeguards to protect bona fide whistle-blowing activities”.[9]

We are calling on Google to publicly commit to protect whistle-blowers in the company and to take immediate steps to address the concerns employees have raised about Project Dragonfly.

As it stands, Google risks becoming complicit in the Chinese government’s repression of freedom of speech and other human rights in China. Google should heed the concerns raised by human rights groups and its own employees and refrain from offering censored search services in China.

Signed, the following organizations:
Access Now
Amnesty International
Article 19
Center for Democracy and Technology
Committee to Protect Journalists
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights in China
Human Rights Watch
Independent Chinese PEN Centre
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
PEN International
Privacy International
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Signed in individual capacity (affiliations for identification purposes only):

Ronald Deibert
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab
University of Toronto

Rebecca MacKinnon
Director, Ranking Digital Rights

Xiao Qiang
Research Scientist
Founder and Director of the Counter-Power Lab
School of Information, University of California at Berkeley

Lokman Tsui
Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Emma Wadsworth-Jones | Asia and the Americas Programme Coordinator | Chargée de Programmes Asie et Amériques | Encargada de Programas Asia y Américas | PEN International

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Celebrating 90 years of promoting literature and defending freedom of expression

International PEN is trading as PEN International. International PEN is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 05683997. International PEN is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088. International PEN’s registered office is Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN

[1] See Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China (2016), unofficial translation, and Human Rights Watch, “China: Abusive Cybersecurity Law Set to be Passed,” November 6, 2016,

[2] See, Online Censorship In China,

[3] UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

[4] For example, the Global Network Initiative Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy,

[5] UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

[6] Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Google Employees Protest Secret Work on Censored Search Engine for China,” New York Times, August 16, 2018,

[7] Amnesty International meeting with Google, August 2018.

[8] UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Report to the General Assembly on the Protection of Sources and Whistleblowers, September 2015,

[9] OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises, para 13,

About ICPC

Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization beyond borders based on free association of those who write, edit, translate, research and publish literature work in Chinese and dedicated to freedom of expression for the workers in Chinese language and literature, including writers, journalists, translators, scholars and publishers over the world. ICPC is a member organization of International PEN, the global association of writers dedicated to freedom of expression and the defence of writers suffering governmental repression. Through the worldwide PEN network and its own membership base in China and abroad, ICPC is able to mobilize international attention to the plight of writers and editors within China attempting to write and publish with a spirit of independence and integrity, regardless of their political views, ideological standpoint or religious beliefs. Continue reading


Wang QuanzhangSex                               Male

Birth date               1976-02-15

Birth place              Wulian County, Shandong Province

Resident place       Shijingshan District, Beijing Continue reading


80.   ZHOU Yuanzhi

Pen name                ZENG Renquan, HUA Liangxing, CHU Yichu, CHUTIAN Yixiao

Sex                          Male

Birth date                1961-02-22

Birth place              Zhongxiang County, Hubei Province Continue reading


100.   HUANG Xiaomin

Pen name               

 Sex                             Male

 Birth date                1962-10-18

Birth place              Shule County, Kashi Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Continue reading


Qin Yongmin

Pen name

Sex                          Male

Birth date                1953-08-11

Birth place              Wuhan City, Hubei Province Continue reading


liu-feiyueSex                              Male

Birth date              1970-02-05

Birth place             Sui County, Hubei Province

Resident place       Suizhou City, Hubei Province

Education                Colleage

Profession                 Internet writer and former teacher, founder and chief editor of Minsheng Guancha (Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch) website (ICPC member) Continue reading