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China 27 February 2009

Blogger released from hospital after bookshop attack

Well-known blogger Xu Lai told one of his relatives yesterday that he has been released from the hospital where he was being treated for the stab wounds he received two weeks ago. “I feel fine and I am now resting at home,” he said.

Xu was attacked by two men in the bathroom of Beijing’s Dan Xiang Jie bookshop on 14 February immediately after giving a reading with the theme of “Xu Lai’s Tastes.” One stabbed him twice in the stomach. The other tried to cut off one of his hands with a cleaver.

18.02 - Call for thorough investigation into stabbing of well-known blogger

Reporters Without Borders condemns an assault on popular blogger Xu Lai ( on 14 February and urges the authorities to quickly identify his two assailants. He is being treated for two stab wounds to the stomach in Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital, where doctors say his life is not in danger.

Also known by the blogging name of “Qian Liexan,” Xu was attacked in one of the bathrooms of a Beijing bookshop where he had just given a reading. His assailants reportedly told him they had come to “take revenge.”

“We call for a thorough investigation that establishes the motive for this stabbing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If it turns out that Xu was attacked because of what he has posted online, this act of violence would be a particularly serious and disturbing for all Chinese bloggers and would need to be punished accordingly.”

Immediately after giving a reading with the theme of “Xu Lai’s Tastes” in Beijing’s Dan Xiang Jie bookshop, Xu was accosted by two men in the bookshop’s bathroom. One stabbed him twice in the stomach. The other tried to cut off one of his hands with a cleaver.

Reporters Without Borders added: “Certain critical observers are reaching a large audience through the Internet. Chinese bloggers are becoming commentators on daily life and this irritates some of their compatriots. Xu’s blog is widely read in China and his celebrity status may have prompted this criminal attack.”

One of Xu’s friends, fellow blogger He Caitou, described Xu’s comments as “nuanced.” Others acknowledged that his blog entries were sometimes “annoying” for the authorities. Some said the motive for the attack may also have been jealousy, as Xu has gradually become very well known.

China has 298 million Internet users - more than any other country in the world. It is also the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents. A total of 49 people are currently detained for expressing their opposition to the ruling Communist Party in one form or another online. The Internet is closely monitored by the government, which launched a major filtering offensive on 5 January with the declared aim of combating pornography.

According to a Reporters Without Borders tally, more than 2,500 news and information websites were blocked last year because of their political content. Article 35 of the Chinese constitution nonetheless guarantees the right to free expression.

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