Poet Liao Yiwu fled to Germany 'to tell China's story'

By Stephen Evans
BBC News, Berlin

  • Published
n this June 6, 2008 file photo, Chinese poet and novelist Liao Yiwu revisits the earthquake-damaged Gu Temple in Jiezi town of Sichuan province
Image caption,
Liao Yiwu says he was threatened with jail if he published his new book

A Chinese dissident poet has told the BBC he fled to Germany so that he could publish material about life in China.

Liao Yiwu, who was jailed for writing about the Tiananmen Square protests, said the Chinese authorities had denied him an exit visa 17 times.

He managed to slip across the border into Vietnam and reached Germany travelling through several countries.

The Beijing government has cracked down on dissent this year, detaining artists, lawyers and activists.

Mr Liao has been in trouble with the Chinese authorities ever since he published a poem about the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

After it, he was arrested and sent to prison. From his experience there, he wrote a book that he titled The Bottom Rung of Society.

He has now written a memoir describing his treatment by the authorities.

"The authorities told me if this book is coming out then they will put me into jail," he said.

"I tried to negotiate but it was like a bottleneck and we couldn't get any further - no solution."

After being denied permission to leave China, he quietly crossed the border and came to Germany via a circuitous route.

In Berlin, he said he had left his family and friends behind but they were not unhappy about it since he was safer in the West than back in China where he faced further arrest.