Customs rejects overseas scholar's appeal for held books

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-24 07:48
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GUANGZHOU: An appeal by an overseas Chinese professor attempting to recover his books confiscated by customs upon his return trip from Hong Kong was rejected.

Feng Chongyi, 48, associate professor of China Studies and deputy director of the China research center with the University of Technology in Sydney, was carrying more than 20 books purchased in Hong Kong as he entered inspections at the Guangzhou Tianhe railway station on June 5.

Customs officers, however, confiscated 11 books on the spot. After more than two hours of negotiations with the customs office, Feng was unable to regain the books.

The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, which accepted his lawsuit in August, rejected his appeal for the books' return yesterday.

Feng said most of the confiscated books were written by mainland authors and did not violate Chinese laws or regulations.

"I don't know why customs officers are authorized to confiscate such books, which they claim contain banned content and should not be spread in the mainland," Feng told the Southern Weekly. "So I decided to take the case to court."

"We haven't decided whether to appeal to a higher court or not," Feng's lawyer Tang Jingling said in a telephone interview with China Daily yesterday.

Feng did not appear in court yesterday. He said earlier that he had never had such an experience in other countries.

"It is actually my first time to engage in a lawsuit. I don't know why customs has the right to confiscate books, which are my personal belongings," Feng said.

His lawyer said the confiscation had violated Feng's property rights.

"The customs did not show any public regulations nor undertake legal procedures to confiscate Feng's books," Tang said.

However, the customs office said the confiscation was in accordance with rules by China's General Administration of Customs on control of incoming and outgoing printed matter and audio and video products, issued in June 2007.

Customs officers said in the first trial on Oct 14 that the content in several books were banned in the mainland according to relevant laws and administrative regulations.

Xu Yue, a press official with Guangzhou Customs, told China Daily yesterday that local customs would strengthen efforts to crack down on the import of such banned books from Hong Kong to the mainland.

"Many passengers try to bring banned books from neighboring Hong Kong. They should be aware that these books could not be spread in the mainland," Xu said.