China: Online novelist arrested for spreading obscenity

An online novelist, Yuan Ping (pseudo name), was arrested by the Dongguan city police for spreading obscene material on September 26.

According to the report from Southern Metropolis, the novelist is a secondary school teacher in Shunde city, Guangdong province. He was born in 1981 and graduated from the Chinese language department of Hunan Science and Technology University.


He started to write an online novel at Tianya forum in June 2009. The original title of the novel was “Sleeping in Dongguan in the 80s” 《80年代———睡在东莞》. It took Yuan Ping 4 months to write 155 chapters and 390 thousands words on the forum. The story is about the Sauna Industry in Dongguan and is written in the style of realism. The novel is very popular among netizen and more than 10 publishers have approached Yuan Ping for printing the book. In the final review of the book, Yuan Ping was asked to delete some sensitive terms and the title of the novel was changed to “Being in Dongguan” 《在东莞》.

Yuan Ping is now under criminal detention and netizens are trying to “rescue” the writer by spreading the news online.

A Beijing lawyer, Zhou Ze, explained to the Southern Metropolis reporter that articles with literary value should not be considered as obscene article and the evaluation should be undertaken by the professionals rather than by the police. Another famous online novelist Murong Xuecun said that if the obscenity charge of Yuan Ping's novel stands, many online novelists will have to face criminal charge, as the reality of the society is full of violence and obscenity. Tianya literature forum's webmaster also said that if Yuan Ping's novel were pornography, they would not have allowed it to be published.

Dongguan is located in Guangdong province. The city is famous of its prosperous sex industry.


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  • Graeme

    My understanding is the book is called “80后———睡在东莞”, not “80年代———睡在东莞”. The “80” doesn’t refer to the story taking place in the 1980s – there wasn’t much of a sauna industry in Dongguan then, maybe only the beginnings of it. The “80” refers to people born after 1980, ie, just after China began reform and opening up. This generation knew nothing of Mao and the cultural revolution, but has mainly known increasing prosperity (relative, of course, to China’s immediate past). The author was apparently born in 1981, so he’s of this generation and is presumably writing from that perspective. So “Sleeping in Dongguan in the 80s” is not a terribly good translation of the title; maybe something like “Generation X Sleeping in Dongguan”??

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