In a case illustrating just how tightly the Chinese government controls the circulation of information, representatives of two government agencies raided a Beijing public interest group, charging it with publishing its own internal information and a periodical without the required permits.
On the morning of July 29, 2009, the Yirenping Center (益仁平中心) was investigated by the Beijing Public Security Bureau and the Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement General Brigade (under the Cultural Ministry) on suspicion of engaging in publishing activities. More than 90 copies of the Center’s “China’s Anti-Discrimination Legal Action Newsletter” (“Legal Action Newsletter”) were confiscated. Lu Jun (陆军), the person in charge of the Center, was ordered to appear at the Brigade on August 4 for further investigation.
Yirenping Center, established at the end of 2006, is a public interest organization specializing in public health education (disease prevention and treatment), patient aid, and elimination of discrimination. The Center has also contributed to the formulation and revision of national legislation.
Lu Jun denied that the Center engaged in publishing activities. He told Human Rights in China (HRIC), “We are an organization, not a publishing company. We do not do publishing.” Lu Jun has been active in defending carriers of hepatitis B against discrimination. He said that the Center specializes in providing legal assistance to disadvantaged groups. “We hand out legal information mainly to help defend the rights of disadvantaged groups. The authorities are chiefly targeting our ‘Legal Action Newsletter,’ which they consider an illegal publication.”
The investigating officers stated in the “Administrative Law Enforcement Inspection Record” that they confiscated the “Legal Action Newsletter” because Yirenping Center failed to provide an “Internal Material Publishing Permit” or “Periodical Publishing Permit.”
According to the Regulations on the Administration of the Publication of Periodicals (期刊出版管理规定) issued by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), a periodical must be published by a “lawfully established periodical publication entity,” and that entity must receive a “periodical publication permit” also issued by GAPP in order to publish a periodical. Another GAPP directive prohibits any entity from publishing its own internal information without applying for and receiving a permit, and stating the publication’s purpose, contents, target readers, number of copies, etc.
Lu Jun believes the action taken by the authorities against Yirenping Center is similar to the penalty levied on the Open Constitution Initiative for tax evasion on July 17. “The purpose is to find excuses for suppressing China’s NGOs,” Lu said.
“Once again, this is an example of the increasingly restrictive legal environment under which China’s civil society organizations must operate,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC. “Further, by prohibiting an organization from publishing its own information, the cited regulations illustrate the degree of authoritarian information control.”
Lu Jun said the Center will engage public interest lawyers Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) and Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵) to sue the law enforcement organ for its illegal administrative actions.
For issues of Yirenping Center’s “China’s Anti-Discrimination Legal Action Newsletter,” see:
For more information on Open Constitution Initiative, see: