BEIJING--A Chinese blogger critical of government censorship said he will continue speaking his mind despite being punched in the head and having a knife tossed at him during a book-signing session here.
“I do feel fear, but the worth of a writer lies in overcoming fear for the unknown and writing and reporting on unknown territory,” Li Chengpeng, a 44-year-old former reporter, said in his miniblog after the session on Jan. 13.
Li’s miniblog addresses issues of social injustice and has 6.58 million followers. He recently blasted the authorities’ censorship of the Southern Weekly newspaper.
According to Li, his lawyer and witnesses, a man who looked in his 50s punched Li’s temple at 5:40 p.m. after storming the venue, where Li was signing autographs to commemorate the release of his book, which says media control in China is futile in the Internet age.
Around 6:50 p.m., a man who appeared in his 40s pulled out a knife wrapped in red paper with a ribbon from his carrier bag when his turn for an autograph came.
Li's friends jumped on the man, but he still managed to toss the knife at the author.
The two assailants were arrested by police.
But Li sat through the entire session to sign his book for about 4,000 people.
“I felt indebted to my readers for standing in line for hours despite the air pollution (that is described as the worst ever),” he said, referring to his determination to complete the event.
The man who punched Li is a former lawyer from Shandong province who describes himself as a “left-winger” critical of reform and openness, according to sources.
The assailant with a knife said in his blog ahead of the book signing, “I will present a knife to Li because he said in his miniblog that he wants a knife.”
The man was apparently protesting Li’s posts that satirized authorities’ restrictions on knife sales to tighten security before the National Congress of the Communist Party in November last year.
Most of Li’s supporters are progressive academics and students as well as members of the middle class.
A group of conservatives criticizing reform and espousing patriotism and nationalism is also expanding its support base.
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