The Independent Chinese PEN Center, or ICPC, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Hong Kong earlier this week. However, only three of the fourteen invited writers were able to attend, due to threats by the Chinese regime.

The president of the ICPC says the reason for the threats is simple.

[Liao Tienchi, President, Independent Chinese PEN]
“The Communist Party, the rulers, are really paranoid. I believe our pen is more persuasive and powerful than all of their army, all of their police, and all of the pressure they put on us.”

The invited writers were either visited by internal security police or threatened in writing, and most were prevented from attending.

This year’s gathering is the first meeting since writer Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Liu is a former president of the center.

The ICPC has 270 members, over half of whom live in the Mainland. However, they have never been permitted to hold public meetings in China, save for the award ceremony in Beijing back in 2004 and 2005. Numerous writers have been stopped from attending the Hong Kong gatherings, even to receive awards.

At the roundtable discussion, the writers that could make it expressed great concerns that the condition of China’s freedoms is only deteriorating more and more. Writers, dissidents and the authorities are still far from reaching peaceful resolutions on these matters.

[Liao Tienchi, President, Independent Chinese PEN]
“They’re really overly paranoid. I’m not talking about how stable the country is… You know, the cost of “maintaining stability” actually is greater than defense spending. No other country in the world is like this, except China.”

At least 40 writers, including four ICPC members are currently imprisoned in China. This year is said to be one of the worst for human rights in the Mainland.