China Change, October 31, 2015
The trial of Jiangxi dissident Fu Zhibin (傅志彬), author of the book “A History of Brainwashing” (《洗脑的历史》), concluded on Oct. 30 in the Nanchang City Intermediate People’s Court. Fu was tried for “illegal business operations” (非法经营罪); the court is expected to announce the verdict in the coming days.
Four defendants stood trial: apart from Fu Zhibin, there was his assistant Wu Wei (吴薇), and two print staff.
Fu, 51, was taken away by Nanchang City police on September 9 last year for selling “A History of Brainwashing”; on September 30 he was criminally detained for alleged “illegal business operations.” In December 2014 prosecutors authorized his arrest, and in March 2015 he was formally indicted.
“A History of Brainwashing,” after its publication in Taiwan, was available for purchase in mainland China via Taobao, as well as being sold in some places of retail. Not long after it went on sale Fu was taken captive by police. At the time the book had sold over 1,000 copies, bringing in revenue of 90,000 RMB.
Fu Zhibin’s lawyer Zhang Zanning (张赞宁) said that the authorities charged that the book had no publication number, which made it illegal. But, he argued, this only violated an administrative law, not a criminal law. If the authorities wanted to charge Fu with illegal business operations, they would need to first go through the administrative agency in charge of publications, and only if that agency considered the matter to be a violation of the law would they be able to hand it over to the public security authorities. Given that public security directly filed the case, ignoring the appropriate procedures, this act itself didn’t conform to the law, Zhang argued—and the detention of Fu was therefore also illegal.
Fu Zhibin, in his defense at trial, said that his book would withstand the test of time, and that he hopes the judgement of the court will also be able to stand up to the scrutiny of the future.
Zhang said: “You must know that this is China—in China, no matter how good your defense is, they’ll still convict and sentence you.”
According to the author’s preface in “A History of Brainwashing,” the book was first conceived as an attempt to provide a brief history of the Chinese Communist Party. But what Fu had completed in two years was not merely the telling of the Party’s history, but as an exploration of the harm caused by extremist ideologies and their methods of controlling a populace.
“The radicalization of thought comes from monotheism: from one soul, to one leader, to one head of state, the structure of thought is the same — it’s about not allowing the masses to have any other idol or competing thoughts, so as to control and coerce them,” Fu wrote.
“It can be said that this book is the product and record of my reading, thinking, and traveling over the decades,” he wrote. “So the work is also an odd hybrid: it probes theories, narrates historical events, and includes my own observations and recollections.”
Fu could face a maximum jail time of 5 years.
Fu Zhibin was born in Nanchang City of Jiangxi Province in 1964; in 1985 he graduated from the philosophy department of Lanzhou University. He is also an independent film director, having produced “Tibet: Between Buddhism and Modernity,” and “The Vastness of the West” series of documentaries.
《西边有海》第一集《汶川的秘密》– First episode of the “The Vastness of the West” documentary series on western China.
西藏在佛与现代化之间 – documentary series: “Tibet: Between Buddhism and Modernity”
专访《洗脑的历史》作者傅志彬 – an interview with Fu Zhibin about his book on brainwashing