(Adopted by the 2nd Congress of Membership Assembly, 23 October 2005, and amended by the 5th Congress of Membership Assembly, 19 October 2011 and the 8th Congress of Membership Assembly, 11 April 2018)
Chapter One: Generals
This PEN Center shall be a nongovernmental, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization beyond borders based on free association of those (generalized below as the Workers of Chinese Literature) who write, edit, translate, research and publish literature work in Chinese worldwide.
This PEN Center is named as Independent Chinese PEN Center with its abbreviation of ICPC.
This PEN Center is a member organization of PEN International and recognizes its Charter, which shall have precedence should the Charter of this Center contravene its principles.
This PEN Center represents neither a country nor a region but only its own membership.
Chapter Two: Principles
This PEN Center maintains that a workers of Chinese literature shall always have freedom to write, express and publish her/his work and also the right to criticize those in power regardless of political inclination or other standpoint which s/he holds, regardless of country or region where s/he lives, and regardless of form or genre that s/he utilizes, and should not consequently be subjected to the political persecution nor to the imprisonment conducted by any state, especially by the extreme left or right regimes. This Center opposes anyone in power to conduct the control of press and publication or the censorship of opinions.
This PEN Center maintains that Chinese literature shall bear its own characteristics of Chinese language beyond borders and nations. All of people shall have the right to write and express in Chinese. The publication and circulation of Chinese writings in any country or region shall never be interfered regarding its political system or situation.
This PEN Center maintains that the works of Chinese literature shall be among the common spiritual resources of all humankinds and that they shall under no circumstance, not even in a state of emergency like war, be damaged for political, ethnical, national, religious or ideological arguments.
This PEN Center maintains that any worker of Chinese literature must not abuse freedoms of expression, writing and publication. This Center shall oppose the use of Chinese or other languages for insult, slander, fabricating or deliberately distributing lies for political, personal or other purposes.
This PEN Center shall promote the mutual understanding and respect between people, do its outmost to dispel social, racial, class or national hatreds, and campaign the ideal of peaceful coexistence of humankinds in one world. This Center believes that defending the freedom of writers of Chinese works and promoting the exchange of Chinese literatures shall contribute to the realization of this ideal.
Chapter Three: Membership
A member of this PEN Center must conform to the following qualifications:
- fulfilling the membership conditions affirmed by PEN International and signing its Charter;
- agreeing with the above principles and exercising one’s membership duties; and
- utilizing Chinese languages in writing, editing, translating, researching and publishing literature work regardless of mother-tone, color, race, nationality or faith.
A membership applicant must submit an application form, a Curriculum Vita and referrals from two members, to the Secretariat or a member of the Board of Directors of this Center. The membership of any individual shall be approved by the Board.
The membership of this Center shall not contradict any of other organizations. A member of this Center shall retain the right to be a member of other PEN Centers, writers’ associations or unions, societies or other civil organizations. A member of this Center may also be a civil servant. However, a Director, i.e. the Board member, of this Center must not have a position of any government officer nor be leadership of any political party.
A member of this PEN Center shall enjoy the following rights:
- to vote and stand for election, and to submit and vote for proposals;
- to apply for the participate in the work of this Center, with a priority to be employed by this Center; .
- to apply for, as well as to submit and stand for nomination to, the awards, various grants and remission or exemption of membership dues, with a priority to get services by this Center;
- to participate in the Membership Assembly sessions, other meetings and activities organized by this Center;
- to know and supervise the affairs of this Center, to address suggestions, criticisms and inquiries to the President or the Board or other working organs, and receive the proper respond and processing;
- to complain, whenever a membership right is violated, to the President or the Board or the Membership Assembly, and receive timely respond and processing; and
- to quit from this Center in a written application or statement at any time.
The membership rights are equal. A member may waive for one’s own reason, or be suspended in accordance with the regulations of this Center, to exercise a part of membership rights.
A member of this PEN Center shall fulfill the following obligations:
- to comply with the regulations of PEN International and this Charter, and rules and resolutions of this Center;
- to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of this Center, not to be engaged in any act prejudicial to the reputation or right or interest of PEN;
- to participate in the work or activity of this Center; and
- to pay the membership dues required annually, except for those approved by the Board for remission or exemption of membership due according to the individual application or other special circumstance.
A new member without paying any membership due since joining this Center, or a member losing contact and paying none of membership dues and participating none of activities of this Center for sequent two years shall be deemed as a waiver of a part of membership rights, temporarily being suspended of the rights enumerated in items 1-3 of Article 13 until the automatic recovery of these rights by paying the membership dues, otherwise as automatically quitting from this Center one year later, expect for the members imprisoned.
Through voting of the Assembly or the Board, the membership qualification of anyone can be terminated who is involved in any of the following situations:
- open opposition to any of this Center’s principles stated in Articles 5-9 of this Charter;
- continuous engagement in any activity severely harming the reputation of PEN after being warned from the Assembly or the Board;
- participation in the persecution of any worker in Chinese literature that violates PEN’s principles; and
- submission to this Center with false information proven in the documentation of personal identity or resume or work.
Anyone whose membership qualification is terminated may retain membership for a year of inspection, during which period one shall be suspended of all or part of the rights limited in items 1-5 of Article 13 according to a resolution of the Membership Assembly or the board, until these rights shall be restored by the Board within a year of membership retention.
Chapter Four: The Membership Assembly
The supreme organ of this PEN Center shall be the Membership Assembly, to which all of the authorities of this Center are attributed.
The Congress of Membership Assembly shall be held every second year. The Congress shall be convened in twenty and twenty-eight months since the end of last Congress. During the closing period of the Assembly, the Board, or at least one third of whole membership who co-signed a motion, may demand for an Emergent Congress. The specific methods of convening and preparing Congress of Membership Assembly or Emergent Congress shall be separately enacted by the Membership Assembly.
The Membership Assembly shall exercise the following authorities:
- to examine and approve the working and financial reports submitted by the President on behalf of the Board;
- to elect the Directorship of the Board;
- to recognize the Honorary Presidency and to decide on the Honorary Directorship;
- to examine and approve the amendments of this Charter and other resolutions;
- to decide on the disbandment of this Center or on its merge with another organization;
- to carry on its powers which are not assigned to the Board.
The Congress of Membership Assembly shall be valid should half of the members with a right to vote sign up or check in. Any of the working and financial reports and other resolutions voted by the Assembly shall be approved with the positive votes of more than half of the voting members. The Directorship shall be elected by the Assembly when the candidates shall get more votes than all of others failing to be elected.
The Board, any of the Working Committees, or five or more members as the co-signers, of this PEN Center, may submit a draft resolution to the Membership Assembly.
Chapter Five: President, Vice-President and the Board of Directors
The Board of Directors shall be the decision-making organ of this PEN Center, responsible to the Membership Assembly to exercise the decision-making powers during the closing period of the Assembly. Total numbers of the Directors shall be odd and not less than nine. There shall be two Alternate Directors, one of whom with more votes when the elected shall fill the vacancy of a Director if any. The Directors and their Alternates shall be directly elected by the Assembly when they shall get more votes than all of other candidates failing to be elected. Two Alternates shall be elected when they shall get the most votes beyond the total number of Directors elected. Any five or more members as the co-signers may nominate to the Assembly the candidates of Directorship.
This PEN Center shall have one President and one or two of Vice-presidency. The president and Vice-president shall be elected by the Board of Directors. Presidency rotation policy may or may not be adopted according to specific circumstances. When there are two Vice-presidents, they shall be appointed the first Vice-president and the second Vice-president.
Each term of the Board of Directors shall hold one mandate until the next term of the Board is elected.
Presidency, Vice-presidency and Directorship may be reelected consecutively.
A Director, Alternate, President or Vice-President shall have the right to resign. None of Director, Alternate, President or Vice-President shall at the same time hold a position of any government officer nor be leadership of any political party, otherwise one must resign. A Director to resign must present the President a formal statement of resignation, which shall be approved by the Board to be treated as the vacancy of Directorship for an Alternate to fill. The resignation of an Alternate, with the Board’s approval, may leave its vacancy until a by-election at next Congress of Membership Assembly should no impact be caused on the valid number of the directorship to hold the Board meeting. Otherwise, the Board shall instead hold the enlarged meetings according to Article 28. The President or Vice-President to resign must present the Board a formal statement of resignation, which shall be approved by the Board for by-elections. The resignation of a President or Vice-president at same time from the Board shall be treated in the same way as that of a Director. There must be at least one third of the board directors or one fifth of whole membership to co-sign a motion for recall of a President, Vice-president or Director, which shall be voted by the Board for its validation with at least two-third positive votes of whole Directorship.
The Board of Directors shall exercise the following functions and powers:
- to decide on the appointment of Secretary-general, leading officers of the Working Committees and other staff;
- to decide on the working programs and budgets of this PEN Center;
- to examine and approval the working and financial reports to be submitted to the Membership Assembly;
- to enact the Board’s rules of order, financial regulations, and other rules and regulations;
- to examine for approval or termination of the membership, and determine the standard and amount of membership dues;
- to decide on the awarding or termination of honorary membership;
- to decide on the establishment or adjustment of the Working Committees, on the adjustment of the Secretariat’s composition, on the establishment of the special working groups or an arbitration group for particular dispute under the Board;
- to decide on the various awards of this PEN Center;
- to decide on the division of the duties of Directors, and on the position of a Director for financial supervision (simply entitled as the Supervisor);
- to decide on the publication of open letters and statements on behalf of this Center, and the submission of draft resolutions to the Congress of the PEN International;
- to decide on the recall motion, and on the call for an Emergent Assembly session;
- to interpret this Charter and other regulations;
- to approve the work reports and accounts given by the Secretary-general or leading officers of the Working Committees, or to addresses inquires on and reconsider an administrative decision; and
- to conduct the other competences authorized by the Membership Assembly.
A meeting of the Board shall be valid only with the attendance of more than half of Directorship.
A resolution shall be passed by the Board with the approval of at least half of the attendant Directors unless this Charter regulates otherwise. More than one third of the Board members must not simultaneously hold the administrative posts of this Center. The meetings of the Board shall be convened and chaired by the President. When the President for some reason cannot exercise the duty, the first Vice-president shall act for presidency. When the first Vice-president for some reason cannot exercise the duty, the second Vice-president shall act for the first vice-presidency. When all of the presidency and vice-presidency are vacant, the majority of the rest Directors shall elect a convener to convene a meeting of the Board, which shall by-elect the President and Vice-presidents according to Article 22. More than half of whole Directorship may also cosign to convene a meeting of the Board.
A resolution approved by the Board must be circulated among all the members of this Center. Whether or not to release a matter unresolved by the Board or a record of the meeting debates shall be upon the Board’s decision.
When the valid number of the Directorship to attend a meeting of the Board is not sufficient even after the substitution of the Alternates for the Directorship absent due to the irresistible causes but the matter to deal with is not so essential to need calling for an Emergent Assembly session, an Enlarged Meeting of the Board shall be convened to include the attendances and votes of Secretary-general or Deputy Secretary-general, Treasurer and the leading officers of the Working Committees who are not among the Directorship. The Enlarged Meeting of the Board shall be convened by the President, or according to the procedure defined in Article 26 when the President for some reason cannot exercise the duty.
The President shall exercise the following functions and powers, responsible to the Membership Assembly and the Board of Directors during the closing period of the Assembly:
- to convene and chair the meetings of the Board, not less than four meetings a year;
- to nominate the candidates of Secretary-general and leading officers of the Working Committees;
- to publish the Board resolutions and external statements;
- to decide on the routine financial affairs upon the authorization of the Board;
- to represent this Center for the external affairs as a legal representative of this Center ;
- to present to the Membership Assembly the working and financial reports on behalf of the Board; and
- to decide on the other matters authorized by the Board.
Chapter Six: The Secretariat and The Working Committees
The Secretariat and the Working Committees shall be the day-to-day working organs of this Center, responsible to the Board. The Secretariat has a Secretary-general and one or two Deputy Secretary-generals. The Supervisor has authority to inspect and inquire the financial affairs and other working records of the Secretariat. After the election of the new Board by the Membership Assembly, the current Secretariat and the Working Committee shall maintain their day-to-day work until the new Secretariat and the Working Committee shall be appointed.
The Secretary-general shall be in charge of the duties of the Secretariat and coordinate the works of the Working Committees. Secretary-general shall be nominated and appointed by the President upon the Board’s approval; attend the meetings of the Board if not a Director; be responsible for the implementation of the working programs and budges approved by the Board, the preparation of the Assembly sessions, and the election duties; and follow the Board’s resolutions and the finance regulations. Secretary-general’s financial decision within the authorization must be reported to the President and Supervisor in three days after the decision.
The Working Committees shall be the special working organs of this PEN center, some of which correspond to those established under PEN International, such as Writers in Prison Committee, thus following the instructions of the respective committees of PEN International. Other committees are the working organs established particularly by this Center. The leading officers of the Committees shall be nominated by the President and Secretary-general, and appointed upon the Board’s approval, and attend the relevant meetings of the Board if not a Director. The Secretary-general shall be responsible for coordinating the cooperation between the working organs.
The Secretariat has a Finance Secretary, or Treasurer, responsible for the matters of financial management, the collection of membership dues, funds applications, etc. The Finance Secretary shall be nominated by the Secretary-general and appointed by the President upon the Board’s approval, not authorized to make any financial decision but to carry out the duties under both the Secretary-general and the President, and attend the finance-relevant meetings of the Board if not a Director.
Chapter Seven: The Supplementary Articles
This PEN Center has established a Freedom to Write Award and Lin Zhao Memorial Award to honor the writers in Chinese or another language who shall have made free writing with an excellent accomplishment under difficult circumstances, or who shall have been committed to the defence of the freedoms of writing, expression and publication. The specific selection procedure shall be regulated by the Board elsewhere.
The terms of “within” a number or “between” two numbers shall include the number(s).
This PEN Center shall not be a writers’ union, nor responsible for defending the copyright or other economic benefits of a writer.
This PEN Center shall set up the following honorary tittles:
Honorary Presidency: reserved for any formal president with his/her consent expect for anyone imprisoned, recognized by the Membership Assembly, without a time limit;
Honorary Directorship: invited from those who have made great achievements in literature or who have made great contributions to this Center, awarded or disqualified according the Assembly’s decision, without a time limit;
Honorary Membership: assigned for any of the imprisoned writers to rescue who is not a member of this Center, nominated by the Writers in Prison Committee and approved by the Board to award or terminate.
This Charter shall become valid as soon as approved by the Membership Assembly. The Board or at least one fifth of the members with a right to vote as co-signers may propose a motion to revise this Charter. A motion to revise this Charter shall be approved with the positive votes of at least two-third majority of the voting members.