Murong Xuecun was questioned by police about an essay about June 4
The 25th anniversary of June 4 was over a month ago, but novelist Murong Xuecun was questioned by police and then released after he admitted his involvement in a private gathering the commemorate the the crackdown.
Other human rights activists were detained after attending the event that was held in May, including civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.
Murong Xuecun, whose real name is Hao Qun, did not attend the gathering as he was at another event at the University of Sydney in Australia. However, he released a public statement on Saturday saying one of his essays on the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.
It was his way of showing support for the gathering.
"I oppose their detention. I have done the same thing as them and should not enjoy any sort of exemption," he said in the statement that was circulated on social media on the weekend.
"I will stay at home for the next 24 hours waiting for arrest, but please call me to make an appointment if you fail to make it in the next 24 hours," he said.
"Reciting such an essay at a private gathering can violate China's laws," he said. "By the government's logic, I, too, have committed the crime of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'. I am going to turn myself in."
Then on Tuesday Beijing police contacted Hao and asked him to come in for "a cup of tea", a euphemism for a chat with the authorities, he said during an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle before he went to the police station at dusk.
"The police called me about an hour ago. I asked them to wait as we've already scheduled this interview," he said.
Hao added he was prepared for a jail sentence.
"No one likes or wants to be imprisoned, but I want to do the right thing," he said. "If a jail term is the price I have to pay, then so be it."
He was eventually released after midnight and joined his supporters, some of whom were waiting outside the police station, for a late-night snack.
From Hao's words one can see that he is very clear about the rules and knows his actions will result in some kind of consequence. He is prepared for it which shows how determined he was to do what he did.
He also seems like an old hand in dealing with the authorities on these matters and didn't provoke them enough to make them want to incarcerate him. Also it helps that friends were waiting outside the police station showing they knew where he was.
These calculated risks made with courage are what rights activists in China go through everyday. They are trying to push civil society forward inch by inch in the country without the government's blessing.
There is hope that eventually civil society will become more mainstream on the mainland thanks to people like Hao.