Chinese Yaoi Novelist, Tianyi, Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison Along With Four Others
Yaoi Sentencing

A Chinese novelist named Liu Yuanyuan, better known online under the infamous pseudonym “Tianyi”, an account which has amassed more than 70,000 followers on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, has had her appeal denied after being charged for distributing “obscene”material depicting fictional acts of erotic homosexuality between men. The yaoi content creator will be facing 10 years and six months in prison, along with a few other co-conspirators who helped Tianyi create, publish, and distribute the works to various customers throughout China.

The story quietly made its way around some Chinese news outlets, but it was given some Western attention after it appeared as a brief blurb in the Japanese outlet Asashi, when they published a piece along with a short video describing the event on January 31st, 2019.

The story was picked up by resident Japanese and pro-#GamerGate supporter, Mombot, who retweeted the news to her followers, explaining that typically a guilty sentence for rape only nets you three years in prison, but Tianyi and her cohorts were given up to a decade behind bars for the crime of creating yaoi content.

In the Japanese article on Asashi, they explain that distributing explicit homosexual content is considered “obscenity” under Chinese law, and has been that way since 1997.

The news about Tianyi’s court case and jail time isn’t necessarily new. Originally she was arraigned and sentenced for 10 years and six months in prison back in November of 2018 for authoring and distributing the erotic homosexual novel called Occupy.

In the South China Morning Post the article explains that as per the 1997 ruling, anyone selling more than 5,000 pieces of obscene material will face up to a decade in prison.

According to a more detailed report published on January 5th, 2019 by the Chinese-based People’s Network, it goes into rather laborious detail how the authorities found out about Tianyi’s yaoi novels and the people involved with the somewhat complex process of creating and distributing the works via clandestine means.

Part of the reason for the delay in the final sentencing was because there were disputes on whether there was actually more than 5,000 issues distributed containing yaoi content (which is the typical term for homosexual art within the manga and light novel community). Originally the numbers put the sales under 5,000, with 3,764 items in the database, but according to the records there were 4,944 books sold between 2015 and 2017, along with nearly 400 books that the authorities recovered from Tianyi’s home, and a separate 1,326 books from one of the accomplice’s online stores.

In total, the court counted that 7,000 copies of the “obscene” book had been sold. According to the Asian Correspondent, Tianyi accrued more than 150,000 yuan in sales, which comes out to around $21,600.

According to the report, Liu “Tianyi” Yuanyuan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison, and fined 50,000 yuan.

Four others also helped Tianyi make and distribute the novels, and they, too, were also sentenced and fined for their participation.

Among the other four, He Kai was given the next harshest sentence to Tianyi, taking on a hefty 10 year and six month sentence, while being fined 270,000 yuan for making and selling the obscene articles for profit. That comes out to a massive $40,000 in USD.

Yang Xiaoming was given two years and six months in prison, with Yang’s business license being suspended for three years, and an added fine of 10,000 yuan.

The oldest of the group, Ge Lixia, is a 51-year-old shop owner, and was sentenced to 10 months in prison for selling the material from the online shop and fined 5,000 yuan. Ge Lixia was earning a 4% commission on every book sold through the online shop, which was originally created by her child who used it to sell video games and other knickknacks. Ge Lixia’s husband was irate at the news, and after having read it he felt it was a “yellow” (or pornographic) book and that it shouldn’t be sold anywhere.

The one who seemed to get it off the worse was the young Lin Xinyi, a 32-year-old who was the only one of the four who went to school in an undergraduate program studying psychology. She was described as being a quiet introvert who kept to herself, was very nice, and also enjoyed yaoi novels, after becoming enamored with romance novels since she was child.

Lin Xinyi worked with her parents at the local power company, but also took to doing graphic design work on the side. She ended up working with Tianyi after posting an ad for contract work through Weibo. She apparently enjoyed working on the illustrated covers of the yaoi novels, and did so along with Tianyi between 2015 and 2017, earning around 3,100 yuan. That rounds out to $460 USD. Her family knew she enjoyed yaoi novels but weren’t entirely sure about the details of the content, nor were they particularly inclined to find out.

She also had no contact with the other members of Tianyi’s network that were involved with distributing the novels, since her only role in the creation of the content was to illustrate the covers.

Nevertheless, she did most of the talking out of the quintet during the court hearings, just until she began discussing how her parents might have felt about the outcome of the scenario, where it was reported that she began to break down and cry. Regardless of her pleas and the attempted appeal, Lin Xinyi was sentenced to four years in prison for the participation of helping Tianyi with the books and fined 10,000 yuan, which comes out to approximately $1,500 USD.

She exclaimed that the sentencing wasn’t fair, and various other legal scholars and online denizens within China seemed to agree that the punishments for five individuals didn’t seem to fit the crime, since they claimed that no one was harmed, and the Chinese culture wasn’t negatively impacted.

Nevertheless, China sent a very strong message to the underground manga community within the country: they won’t tolerate homosexuality… especially yaoi content.

(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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