Dear President Xi: A Message from America’s Writers
The imprisonment of writers and journalists damages China’s image abroad and undercuts its ambition to be a strong and respected partner on the world stage.
As I read this, I recall seeing similar letters to other heads of state expressing concern about imprisoned writers. Perhaps the expression “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” should be updated to “We have nothing to fear but what is written about us.”
I applaud PEN’s letter because it focuses concern on how little freedom of speech there is in many parts of the world and, as Ursula LeGuin has been pointing out recently, how easy it has been for our own freedoms to erode in the name of safety here in the United States.
I don’t expect the country that is saber rattling throughout the South China Sea to respond in a positive way to PEN’s appeal. Perhaps in time, China’s writers will say enough to shatter the regime’s fears–or make the worst of them come true.