She Is Not Alone
– A Joint Statement
The undersigned PEN centers and individuals are expressing our solidarity with Ms. Geling Yan, a prominent American-Chinese author residing in Berlin, for her struggle to restore her credit against Chinese state power. As shown in her open letter attached, Chinese authorities have suppressed her freedoms of expression and of the press in China, and been extending their long-arm censorship beyond through China’s expanding economic and political powers. We are calling the writers, journalists, publishers, distributors and media of conscience to support Ms. Yan’s One-Person-against-A-State struggle
Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC)
Ms. Tienchi Martin-Liao, Honorary President, Vice-chair of Writers for Peace Committee of PEN International, writer and translator (Germany)
Chu Cai, President, Publishes of Democratic China, poet (US)
Prof. Yiran Pei, former President, scholar and writer (US)
Shiying Zhao, Vice-president, writer (China)
Dr. Biao Teng, Vice-president, law professor (US)
Ms. Jianzhen Qi, Honorary Director and former Vice-president, writer (Australia)
Prof. Song Tan, former Vice-president, writer (US)
Zili Yang, Dictor and Secretary-general, editor (US)
Zhengqing Liu, Director of Writers in Prison and Freedom to Writer Committee (WiPC), lawyer and writer (China)
Dr. Yu Zhang, Coordinator of WiPC, writer, editor, translator and retired researcher (Sweden)
Ms. Jianhong Li, Director of Women Writers Committee (WWC), writer (China)
Ms. Wing Mui Tsoi, Coordinator of WWC, writer and retired editor (Hong Kong)
Ms. Ze Hua, Member of WWC, writer (US)
Dr. Biao Chen, Coordinator of Press, Exchange and Translation Committee, editor and translator (US)
Yongpan Zhang, Director, essayist (Canada)
Ms. Li Xiang, Director, poet (US)
Hai Li, Director, essayist (China)
Yongpan Xu, Director, essayist (China)
Dr. Yongyi Song, Member, scholar and emeritus professor (US)
Ms. Minju Yen, Member, writer (Taiwan, ROC)
Ms. Rui Shen, Member, professor, writer, poet and translator (US)
Dr. Jianli (Doc) Yang, Member, scholar and human rights activist (US)
Qingmin Wang, Member, writer and researcher of international politics (Serbia)
Uyghur PEN Center
Dr. Kaiser A. ÖzHun, President, anthropologist and artist (Sweden)
Dr. Khamit Khamrayev, General Secretary, novelist, writer and translator (Kazakhstan)
Prof. Murat Orhun, publisher, editor in chief of “Izdish” journal (Turkey)
Slovene PEN Center
Ms. Tanja Tuma, President, writer and publisher
Marjan Strojan, former president, poet, translator and journalist
Trieste PEN Center
Dr. Antonio Della Rocca, President, Chair of the Search Committee of PEN International, novelist and poet
Danish PEN Center
Ms. Mille Rode, General Secretary, journalist
Ms. Anne Marie Ejrnæs, former Board Member, writer
Croatian PEN Center
Tomica Bajsic, President, writer, poet and artist
Sydney PEN Center
Ms. Joanne Leedom-Ackerman，Vice-president of PEN International, former Vice-president of PEN America, Honorary Director of ICPC, novelist and journalist (US)
Prof. Hori Takeaki, Vice-president of PEN International, Honorary Director of ICPC, writer, journalist and anthropologist (Japan)
Eugene Schoulgin, Vice-president of PEN International, writer and scholar (Norway)
Prof. Iman Humaydan, Co-founder, Board Member and former President of PEN Lebanon, Board Member of PEN International, novelist, script writer and researcher (Lebanon)
Tarık Günersel, Secretary and former President of Türkiye PEN, former Board Member of PEN International, writer and poet (Turkey)
Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt, former president of PEN Suisse Romand, co-founder of Vietnamese League for Human Rights，Vietnamese poet, writer and journalist in exile (Switzerland)
Ms. Lihua Mo, essayist and retired teacher (Sweden)
Zhengqing Fu, literary critic, poet and translator (Sweden)
Prof. Torbjörn Lodén, scholar and sinologist (Sweden)
Dr. Yuhuai He, honorary president of h of Huawen Writers of Sidney, convenor
of The Federtion of Australian Chinese Cultural Associations Inc ., writer (Australia)
Xilin Wáng, Composer (China)
(more to join)
Open Letter on Sweden Showing of One Second
To whom it may concern:
My name is Yan Geling. I am the author who wrote the novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi, which director Zhang Yimou optioned in 2011 and on which he based his films Coming Home and One Second.
In March 2020 I wrote and promulgated an essay criticizing the Chinese government’s policy of hiding the truth and punishing those who sounded the alarm about COVID-19, as well as expressing support for the author Fang Fang, whose work was banned after she wrote her book The Wuhan Diaries. ( https://paper-republic.org/pubs/read/hide-hide-hide/ ) As a result of my essay, my work was banned in China. My books were ordered de-shelved, new books could not be published, existing books were forbidden from being reprinted, and my film projects were stopped. I used to derive most of my income from China. Now it is mostly gone, but I believe as an author I have the duty to tell the truth and to use my influence to the benefit of society.
In November 2020, the film One Second was finally allowed to be released. Shortly before its release, I received a phone call from Director Zhang’s artistic advisor, an old friend of mine, apologizing and saying that the Chinese government censors had demanded that my film credit be deleted from the film as a condition for the film’s release.
I was angry but was in no position to change this situation in China. I decided, however, that when this film was released abroad, especially in democratic countries where authors have rights and the rule of law is respected, I would insist on my moral rights as an author and demand that my film credit be restored.
I have been doing this ever since September 2021, when the film was originally shown at high-profile film festivals in Toronto and San Sebastián. I have engaged lawyers in the United States, France, and Germany to write letters and to attempt to reach a settlement by which my film credit is restored. So far, the usual response has been silence. I take this silence as callous indifference to creative artists, and I believe that the non-action in the face of this fact makes the distributors, film festivals and cinemas complicit in the Chinese government’s censorship and suppression of a creative artist, indeed in the theft of her intellectual property.
The New York Times reported on this on July 23
(https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/23/movies/zhang-yimou-movie.html), noting the suppressed film credit and the seeming indifference of the film industry. They quoted one of the Chinese producers, Huanxi Media, as saying that the film “has nothing to do with Yan Geling.” They chose not to quote the written message to me from Zhao Yijun, Huanxi’s head of production, in which he quoted the exact credit I was originally given, stated that it was removed at the orders of the Chinese censors, made note of my attempts to have my credit restored abroad and threatened to report me to the China Film Bureau and face a situation where an individual takes on the Chinese state. I don’t know if he ever saw the picture of the Tiananmen tank man, but that was the image his threat evoked in me.
The worldwide licensor of the film, the French company Wild Bunch, now no longer represents this film, but the damage is done and continues: the film has been released without credit to the author in multiple markets, including Germany and Norway. And it is now going to be released in Sweden on October 28.
I have always viewed Sweden as a paragon of civic virtue, where people and the government are not afraid to do the right thing. I call on the distributors and cinemas and streaming services to restore my film credit. Swedes are undoubtedly more aware than most of the extremes to which the Chinese Party-State will go to suppress free expression, since one of your citizens, the publisher Gui Minhai, was kidnapped in Thailand in 2015, rendered to China and remains there serving a ten-year sentence on bogus charges.
If one has the will, doing the right thing is not that hard. So far, the US streaming company MUBI has put my picture and credit on its web page, and the Yorck Cinema Group of Berlin has run a film trailer with my credit before and after each screening and pasted addenda on their movie posters stating my film credit. This is easily implemented and does not involve physically manipulating the film.
All I am asking for is credit where credit is due, the basic respect that one accords to a creative artist when her work is used in another artistic creation. I call on the distributors, cinemas, streaming services and all who screen or market this film in Sweden to restore my film credit.
If they choose not to restore my credit, then I call upon all decent Swedish citizens to boycott this film and to participate in demonstrations against its screening.
Lawrence. A. Walker (husband)
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +49-174 8206015