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Internet sexual diaries are banned
( 2003-11-28 09:17) (eastday.com)

The book version of a famous Internet author's sexual diaries has apparently been banned in China, although no one wants to say who is censoring the journal.

Guangzhou writer Li Li has become a controversial figure on the mainland over the last few months due to her Internet diary, published under the pen name Muzimei.

The diary, or weblog, contains essays on love and relationships as well as accounts of her busy sex life.

Several Internet retailers began selling a book based on her weblog on Tuesday, but the volume was pulled yesterday morning.

"Upon the request of readers, we have stopped selling 'Love Letters Before Dying' by Muzimei," read a small notice posted at the front page of www.joyo.com yesterday afternoon.

Another two major online bookstores (www.bol.com.cn) and (www.dangdang.com) also stopped selling the book.

"We got a call from some government officials saying the book has been banned and should be immediately pulled back," Zhang Dongwei, a marketing official from Joyo.com, told Shanghai Daily.

He refused to say which government department ordered the ban.

The book's publisher, 21st Century Publishing House in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, said it is aware of the ban but wouldn't say why the book is now forbidden.

"I couldn't give you the reason. Maybe later," Deng Bing, the book's editor, said yesterday.

Deng said the publishing house began sending out letters to bookstores yesterday asking retailers to "temporarily suspend sales" of the book.

As of last night, several local bookstores were still selling the publication.

Muzimei quickly shot to fame after she began publishing her online diary on June 19. As of November 11, about 110,000 Internet surfers were logging onto her site every day.

But as her fame grew, a growing chorus of media critics condemned her writing as pornography. A section of her blog called "Love Letters Before Dying," which contained all the spicy bits, was blocked, and Li lost her job as a relationship columnist for a Guangzhou magazine.

Undeterred, her publisher went ahead with the book and the three online bookstores began accepting orders.

"We ordered several thousand copies from the publishing house. They all sold out in one day before the ban was announced," said Zhang. "We knew it would be forbidden by the government sooner or later."

Li Li isn't the first author to have her sexually explicit tales banned in China.

In May 2000, Beijing publishing authorities banned "Shanghai Baby," a bestselling novel by Shanghai-based writer Zhou Weihui.

Published in October 1999, the semi-autobiographical book is filled with descriptions of sexual trysts between the heroine and her two lovers.

To some extent, the ban made the book a commercial success. The writer was interviewed by many Western media outlets and her book was published in the United States, Germany and many other overseas markets.

Though banned, many street-side vendors sold pirated copies of the novel.

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