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Literary couple's letters off auction amid protest


13:18, June 04, 2013

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>> Auction of literary giant's letters sparks disputes

A Beijing auction house announced Sunday that it would scrap the auction of letters by a late Chinese writer and his widow upon protest of privacy infringement.

An online statement by Poly International Auction Co., Ltd. said three letters written by Qian Zhongshu and his wife Yang Jiang had been taken off Monday's auction.

Qian, who died in 1997, is a household name in China with his sarcastic novel "Fortress Besieged" that depicted the lives of Chinese intellectuals in the 1930s. Yang, 102, is also a renowned author and translator.

Yang has been in row with Beijing-based auction company Sungari since last month over the company's decision to auction 110 private letters and manuscripts by Qian, Yang and their late daughter. Yang accused the sales, scheduled in June, of infringing their rights of authorship, privacy and reputation.

Yang launched a second protest Tuesday upon hearing a similar auction planned by Poly.

"I firmly oppose acts by any company or individual to auction letters by Qian Zhongshu, our daughter Qian Yuan and me without permission, and we have never authorized any company or individual to handle or sell our letters," said Yang's statement.

"There are many ways of making money, but one can not make public others' privacy or trade them as commodities," said the statement, which also vowed legal actions if such sales were to be continued.

Poly said it immediately decided to cancel the sales upon knowing Yang's protest and that its announcement was to express respect to Qian and Yang.

Before being pulled off, the three letters were estimated between 30,000 and 32,000 yuan (4,855 to 5,178 US dollars) on Poly's website.

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