PEKING — Liu Binyan, one of China's leading writers, was formally expelled from the Communist Party on Saturday, and a Chinese source reported that authorities have placed him under guard or house arrest.
Over the past eight years, Liu, 61, had written a series of novel-length works criticizing systemic local corruption within the Communist Party and the party's insistence on absolute obedience.
In an official expulsion order, the party attacked Liu's writings. It said he had "vilified the Chinese Communist Party" and that he had "vilified the effort to encourage people to learn from advanced individuals and collectives." Liu "refused to accept party leadership," the party said.
List of Expulsions
Liu thus became the most famous Chinese intellectual to lose his membership since the party initiated a campaign against "bourgeois liberalization" earlier this month. Previously, the party expelled astrophysicist Fang Lizhi and writer Wang Ruowang.
It was learned Saturday that the party is now preparing a new list of expulsion orders against other prominent intellectuals.
Among those said to be on the list is Wang Ruoshui, a leading theoretician who angered orthodox Marxists by arguing that alienation, or public malaise, can occur in a socialist society just as it can under capitalism. Another reported target is one of China's leading reform economists, Yu Guanyuan.
In China, expulsion from the party represents a severe form of political punishment for anyone in a position of leadership.
Under 'Semi-House Arrest'
Liu will probably have to sever his affiliation with the People's Daily, the party's official organ and China's leading newspaper, for which he has been a staff writer. He will also almost certainly be ousted from his post as the vice chairman of the Chinese Writers Assn.
A Chinese source said that Liu is now under "semi-house arrest" in Peking. A government official is said to be stationed in his home to monitor his movements and conversations.
Foreigners seeking to speak with Fang, who was expelled from the party after supporting student demonstrations for democracy, have similarly been told that he has a government agent with him where he is staying in Peking.
So far, no case has come to light in which anyone has been brought to trial or imprisoned in connection with the party's campaign against bourgeois liberalization. However, a Chinese source said this week that authorities are investigating Liu and that it is possible some criminal action will be brought against him.
Known for Muckraking
Liu is the leader of a school of writing known in China as "reportage literature."
In 1979, he wrote a lengthy account called "Between Man and Devil" about a local Communist Party boss in Manchuria who stole more than $150,000. Since then, he has written several other accounts of scheming and improprieties by local party officials.
Although these muckraking works were unpopular with party conservatives, many Chinese felt that Liu's works served the political purposes of the regime headed by senior leader Deng Xiaoping. By exposing local corruption, they felt, Liu helped dislodge entrenched local officials and made it easier for the regime to bring in new leaders who would support its reforms.
According to those who knew him well, Liu felt he had high-level political protection for his writings from Hu Yaobang, former general secretary of the Communist Party, and Vice Premier Wan Li. Often, when Liu received letters with reports of local party corruption, he would send them directly to Hu's office.
Under attack by party conservatives, Hu resigned as Communist Party leader Jan. 16.
The decision to expel Liu was made by the party discipline inspection commission of the People's Daily. It said that Liu "gravely violated the journalistic principle of respecting facts and cross-checking to make facts accurate. . . . Liu even went so far as to fabricate facts to attack the party."
The expulsion order also quoted Liu as saying he had written his exposes to demonstrate "the degeneration of the Chinese Communist Party." And it accused him of attacking Marxism to which the party adheres as "outdated ideology."
Sources say that at the People's Daily there was some resistance to the action against Liu. The newspaper has been slower to join in the official campaign against bourgeois liberalization than more conservative newspapers, such as the Guangming Daily, the party organ for intellectuals.
On Saturday, the Guangming Daily announced that the party intends to continue to encourage Chinese intellectuals to express their opinions freely under the slogan: "Let 100 flowers bloom, let 100 schools of thought contend."