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Yaxue Cao, April 16, 2019 In August 1988, two months after receiving his PhD in literature from the Beijing Normal University, Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) left the Chinese capital for a series of academic visits across Europe and the United States. The first place he went to was University of Oslo in Norway. A few months later, he visited University of Hawaii, where he completed the book “China’s Contemporary Politics and Chinese Intellectuals” (《中国当代政治与知识分子》) at its Center for Chinese Studies. It seems that the purpose of his visits was to construct a framework for exploring ways to change China, and it was for this reason that he felt an urgent need to see the West up close. In March 1989, Liu Xiaobo arrived in New York […]


China Change, October 31, 2018 This is part of China Change’s new interview series that seeks to understand the effort of civil society in bringing change to China over the past 30 years. The interview was conducted in June 2018 by Yaxue Cao, editor of this website, at Professor Xu Youyu’s home in Flushing, New York City. — The Editors     Yaxue Cao (YC): Professor Xu, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers? Xu Youyu (XY): My name is Xu Youyu (徐友渔); I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in 1947. I was in the graduating class at the Chengdu No. 1 Secondary School in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution erupted — right when I was enrolling for the national college entrance […]


Liao Yiwu, September 27, 2018, New York City     I thank the award committee for conferring this honor upon me. The award is named for Vaclav Havel’s first work, his autobiography Disturbing the Peace. When translated into Chinese, however, the title of this work means about the same as “provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事). During the existence of the Czechoslovak communist regime, and under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), many dissidents have been sentenced for these “crimes”. When the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 occurred, I wrote and recorded my poem “Massacre” (《大屠殺》). As the final line goes, “Faced with this unprecedented slaughter, the only survivors are the sons of bitches.” For this “disturbance of the peace” I got four years in prison, […]


Gethsemane Church, Berlin, June 26, 2018       Upon the first anniversary of the death of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, a public memorial will be held in the Gethsemane Church (at Stargarder Str. 77, 10437) in Berlin, on July 13, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. On this day last year, China’s most famous political prisoner perished in custody, under tight surveillance and official control, in a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Two days later the world saw his ashes scattered in the Yellow Sea. The Gethsemane Church in Berlin is as renowned as the Nikolai Church in Leipzig — both of which were important refuges for East German dissidents. A few days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gethsemane sternly rejected the […]


A continued call on behalf of Liu Xia (China Change Exclusive) Liao Yiwu, Chinese writer in exile, June 1, 2018         Dear friends, I am hereby once again publicizing a portion of a conversation with Liu Xia (劉霞), this time on May 25, 2018. The recording runs 21 minutes; I have excerpted the final 8 minutes. Liu Xia said: “Loving Liu Xiaobo is a crime, for which I’ve received a life sentence.” This is enough to make one burn with rage. Since when did love become a crime? When Xi Jinping’s father was labeled an anti-CCP element and jailed by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, his mother didn’t abandon him, and nor did she get locked up for years like Liu Xia […]


May 2, 2018 The following is an essay by Liu Xia’s longtime friend Liao Yiwu (廖亦武) explaining the circumstances of the phone call and providing an excerpt of the call for the first time. — The Editors     ‘Dona, Dona,’ Give Freedom to Liu Xia Liao Yiwu, Chinese writer in exile   On April 30, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. in Germany, I spoke to Liu Xia at her home in Beijing. She said: “Now, I’ve got nothing to be afraid of. If I can’t leave, I’ll die in my home. Xiaobo is gone, and there’s nothing in the world for me now. It’s easier to die than live. Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me.” I felt like I’d just been […]


Yaxue Cao, March 21, 2018 Continued from The Might of an Ant: the Story of Lawyer Li Baiguang (1 of 2)     Rights Movement Spread All Over the Country By 2004, Zhao Yan and Li Baiguang were under constant threat. Fuzhou police told the village deputies that Zhao and Li were criminals, and demanded that the deputies expose the two. The Fujian municipal government also dispatched a special investigation team to the hometowns of Li and Zhao to look into their family backgrounds. A public security official in Fu’an said: “Don’t you worry that Zhao and Li are still on the lam — that’s because it’s not time for their date with the devil just yet. Just wait till that day comes: we’ll grab them, […]


China Change, December 22, 2017     Around 4:30 p.m. on December 19, dissident writer Li Xuewen (黎学文) got off Guangzhou subway’s No. 5 line at the Guangzhou Train Station. Before he swiped his card to exit, two plainclothes officers approached him, flashed their IDs, and told Li Xuewen that he was wanted by the Ministry of Public Security for allegedly “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order.” This refers to Li’s participation in a seaside memorial in Xinhui, Guangdong, on July 19, 2017, four days after the eventual death of China’s most known dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. At least a dozen or so people took part in it, ten have been detained and then released “on bail.” Li Xuewen told […]


October 25, 2017   Yaxue Cao sat down with Wang Dan (王丹) on September 27 and talked about his past 28 years since 1989: the 1990s, Harvard, teaching in Taiwan, China’s younger generation, his idea for a think tank, his books, assessment of current China, Liu Xiaobo, and the New School for Democracy. –– The Editors     YC: Wang Dan, sitting down to do an interview with you I’m feeling nostalgic, because as soon as I close my eyes the name Wang Dan brings back the image of that skinny college student with large glasses holding a megaphone in a sea of protesters on Tiananmen Square. That was 1989. Now you have turned 50. So having this interview with you outside a cafe in […]


Yaxue Cao, September 14, 2017     It’s said that when Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, one of his friends wept. But he wasn’t shedding tears of joy. “He will never get out alive,” the friend said. At the time, the 55-year-old Liu had just begun his 11-year sentence at the Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province. The prediction that he won’t make it out alive was a difficult one to credit even for the most pessimistic observers of China’s political system (of which, in China, there is no shortage). Anything can happen in 11 years. Many more people — in particular Liu’s large group of friends — were able to bite their tongues until the day Liu was to […]


Hermann Aubié, September 5, 2017       During the eight and a half years that Liu Xiaobo spent in Jinzhou prison, only intermittent attention to both his fate and Liu Xia’s detention kept him from becoming gradually invisible, despite being the world’s only imprisoned Peace Nobel laureate. Now that Liu Xiaobo has passed away of liver cancer on July 13, 2017, there is an even greater danger that what he expressed and stood for will be either poorly remembered or completely forgotten. In the absence of a comprehensive bibliography of his writings, I compiled this list of Liu Xiaobo’s texts that were found on various Chinese websites, magazines, journals and books that had mostly been published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as part of […]


Hermann Aubié, August 9, 2017     Dear Xiaobo, About three weeks ago, shortly after the world learned about your terminal liver cancer diagnosis of late May 2017, you died aged 61 in the Northeast region of China where you were born. As the poet Tang Danhong wrote, you departed as “an innocent prisoner into the eternal light” (无罪的囚徒,融入永恒的光芒). What a cruel tragedy to live out your last days in a hospital bed under lock and key after fighting most of your life for freedom and human rights! Although I’ve never had the chance to meet you in person, I feel like I’ve lost someone very close to me, as if your death has torn away a part of myself. While you were behind bars […]


By Wu Gan, July 31, 2017 Writing from a detention center in Tianjin, well-known activist Wu Gan (吴淦) is among the last of the 709 detainees. — The Editors     I recently heard the news of Liu Xiaobo’s (刘晓波) death in prison from liver cancer. I also heard of the videos of medical experts treating him, supposedly showing what a “happy life” he led in jail, where he was even allowed to play badminton. I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist — but who benefited the most from his contraction of liver cancer? It certainly is a beautiful resolution to the hot potato of an annoying Nobel Peace Prize laureate. There have been other deaths in prison — that of Li Wangyang (李旺阳) […]


By Yang Jianli, July 22, 2017 “The U.S. should implement targeted sanctions against those personally responsible for Liu Xiaobo’s death. The U.S. can use the Global Magnitsky Act as a tool to sanction them—banning them from traveling in the U.S. and freezing their assets in this country—and also encourage its allies to do the same. It should also consider trade sanctions. In addition, the U.S. can honor Liu Xiaobo’s life and legacy by passing legislation to permanently rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC as ‘Liu Xiaobo Plaza.’”       The world lost a hero when China’s only Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, died of liver cancer in Chinese custody on July 13, 2017. In life as well as in death Liu Xiaobo represents the best of what China can ever be. He possessed […]


Wang Dan, July 20, 2017 “Liu Xiaobo’s death also lays bare a reality we sometimes are reluctant to acknowledge: even the most moderate position, so long as it is premised on constitutional democracy, cannot be accepted by the Chinese Communist Party.”       When I heard that Liu Xiaobo had died, I quickly posted the news on Facebook. So many online friends shared their condolences. One message among them struck me as particularly incisive and worthy of our consideration — this friend said that Liu Xiaobo “walked the path of Kang Youwei (康有为), and spilled his blood like Tan Sitong (谭嗣同).” Of course, to say that Liu Xiaobo “walked the path of Kang Youwei” is not to say that Liu advocated for constitutional monarchy, […]


By Chang Ping, July 18, 2017     On July 7, the German professor Markus W Büchler, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, University of Heidelberg, traveled to Shenyang to take part in diagnosing the condition of Liu Xiaobo. Media reports noted that it was the first time in almost a decade that Liu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had seen a foreigner. When I read this line I felt full of grief. The visit of a doctor isn’t anything like that of a friend calling in. Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for his speech and thought, and apart from the small number of family members who’ve long been under house arrest, no one has been able to see him for all these years. Until he […]


Yaxue Cao, July 16, 2017       It was heartbreaking and depressing recently to watch the community of Chinese activists and dissidents, especially friends of Liu Xiaobo, congregating on WhatsApp and frantically thinking of ways to save him. The appeals and statements, and the calls for signatures from a dozen or so sources, sounded like echoes bouncing off the walls that Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia were trapped behind. For China’s opposition movement, the passing of Liu Xiaobo feels like the climax of a continuous and ruthless campaign of elimination. Now, people are left to pick up the pieces, and they will need time. I have been pointing out that over the past few years, starting from the now benign-looking crackdown on […]


July 15, 2017   “This was a long and public slaughter.”   Today, Xiaobo is gone. Xiaobo, our teacher, our classmate, is gone. The courageous man who protected others’ lives at the scene of the Tiananmen massacre has perished, and the beautiful soul behind Charter 08 has passed away. Xiaobo was a writer, a scholar, a sage, but even more he was a man who acted on his word. He is the unforgettable dark horse in literary circles. His words radiate with rational brilliance; he sacrificed his frail body for Tiananmen; he used pen and ink to calmly write his beautiful freedom-seeking articles. Years of purgatory did not change his ideas. He said at the devil’s court—I have no enemies. Xiaobo had no enemies. But […]


Wu Qiang, June 30, 2017   These actions show that Liu Xiaobo is not only a hardworking dissident author, but also a leader and organizer of political opposition. His superb leadership ability and political acumen allowed him to establish, during the course of the first decade of the 21st century, in a strict authoritarian environment, a movement that inherited the spirit of the Tiananmen democracy movement, an organizational network, and a nationwide opposition platform. In each instance he changed the pessimistic attitude people had toward the political “circumstances,” and helped Chinese citizens stop waiting around and watching from the sidelines, instead inspiring them to actively work for change themselves. — Wu Qiang     The news of Liu Xiaobo’s (刘晓波) terminal liver cancer emerged over […]


Arthur Waldron, October 17, 2016 This is a speech delivered on October 2, the first day of the three-day conference on the prospect of a democratic China in New York City, organized and attended by overseas Chinese scholars and dissidents. With Professor Waldron’s permission, we are pleased to post the text of his speech here. – The Editors   Good morning, my dear friends, it’s a great honor to be here. The first demonstration against dictatorship in China took place outside of the Chinese Consulate in New York more than 30 years ago. I knew it was going to happen, so I went there. There was no press, just me sitting in a café. About 12 people appeared wearing grocery bags over their heads, and […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: December 21, 2015 “Pu Zhiqiang has many facets to his character. He is a rights lawyer, an Internet opinion leader, and a dissident, in the broader sense of the word. His commitments and pursuits over the past 26 years help to explain how Pu has come to be so influential.”     On December 14, 2015, renowned human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) was tried by the Beijing Number Two People’s Court on charges of “provoking a serious disturbance” and “inciting ethnic hatred.” This case has been watched closely ever since Pu was first detained in May 2014. On the day of the trial hearing, diplomats from the United States, the European Union, and other foreign governments went to read statements […]


By Xu Youyu, published: May 13, 2014     Like the vast majority of Chinese people, I don’t like to deal with the police. When the police come to your door, it always means something unusual or inauspicious has occurred. That’s why the police always say, “Nothing’s wrong with you? If there’s nothing wrong with you, why are we here?” In truth, the Chinese have long cultivated the habits of obedient citizens, and when the police appear, they believe something unlawful must have taken place. Whether in uniform or plainclothes, police officers symbolize a mysterious power. Omniscient and omnipotent, they can twiddle the common man in the palms of their hands. The police are a fearsome element in daily life; their arrival suggests impending disaster […]


By YANG Jianli, published: March 18, 2014   Michelle Obama will be a terrific goodwill ambassador when she visits China later this month. She will put America’s best foot forward. The Chinese people will watch her appreciate China’s rich culture. They will see her interest in and concern for all segments of its diverse society — especially the youth — just as she has shown here in America. She and her daughters will experience the stimulating sights and sounds of my homeland, as they walk the Great Wall, gaze out over the Terra Cotta soldiers and visit the Forbidden City.   Perhaps, as they view the vastness of Tiananman Square, they will also ponder its tragic history and the looming 25th anniversary of the Massacre there.  […]


Our Naked Declaration December 10, 2013   We have come to Sweden to run in the nude, because it was here where Mo Yan, a defender of censorship and a senior Communist cadre, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last year. With our act, we want to remind this forgetful world that there is a staunch denouncer of censorship, a witness of the Tian’anmen Massacre in 1989, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who was sentenced to eleven years in prison for his writings and views, and he is now behind bars in China. His name is Liu Xiaobo. With our act, we want to remind this forgetful world an outstanding artist named Liu Xia. She has no particular interest in politics, but […]


— Speech on the Opening Ceremony of Book World Prague By  Liao Yiwu, published: December 9, 2013 In the spring of 1994, not long after I had been released from prison, a friend brought me a copy of The Collected Works of Vaclav Havel through underground channels. It was the earliest Chinese translation published by Hong Kong Radical Press and translated by Zhang Yongjin. Up to that point, I had been living in total despair. Because of a poem protesting the Tian’anmen Massacre, I paid the price of being locked up in prison and was cut off from the world for four years, and, upon my release, I found I was totally abandoned by society. In my prison without walls, I read Havel ravenously. I […]


  Mr. President Xi Jinping, I’m Liu Xia, citizen of the People’s Republic of China. I have been placed under house arrest in my own home since October, 2010. That deprives me of my personal freedom. However, no one has told me why I have been subjected to house arrest. Thinking about it over and over again, I conclude that, in this country, it must be a “crime” to be the wife of Liu Xiaobo. I believe the sentence handed down to my brother Liu Hui on June 9th, 2013, is completely unjust. I question whether the judiciary, even the entire apparatus of state power, is being misused. With the rule of law of our time, the state ought to be working to deliver justice, […]


Citizen Power for China (also known as Initiatives for China) is shocked to learn that the Chinese regime has handed down a severe sentence of 11 years to Mr. Liu Hui, a brother-in-law of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, in a Beijing suburb court on June 9, 2013, right after the conclusion of the summit between China’s president Xi Jinping and the U.S. president Obama. We strongly condemn the verdict in this politically motivated case which has been completely fabricated by the Chinese Communist regime in order to further persecute Liu Xiaobo, his wife Liu Xia, and their extended family. Clearly their hope is to bring Liu Xiaobo to his knees, and to eliminate the emergence of China’s Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu […]


Intimidating, sabotaging the life of, dissidents’ family members is nothing new in China. It has been a time-honored practice of the Chinese government to suppress dissent. After all, Liu Xia has been under house arrest in Beijing for two-and-a-half years now, and her only “crime” is that she’s the wife of Nobel Peace winner Liu Xiaobo, serving an eleven-year prison term for drafting Charter 08 (《零八宪章》) to call for democratic change in China. Today, Associated Press reported that Liu Xia’s brother Liu Hui was formally charged with “fraud” in a real estate dispute, and his lawyer Mo Shaoping said the criminal charges were unwarranted and the dispute has since been resolved. Despite the economic charges, the arrest and indictment of Liu Xia’s brother is believed […]


By Yaxue Cao In the first part of this long post, I took a closer look at Mo Ya’s political choices and explained why many Chinese find him objectionable as a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. At the end, I asked the question: If Mo Yan is such a critical writer, as many in the west believe (the Nobel Committee certainly does), why does the Party embrace him completely, feature him prominently internationally, and award him all the official literary prizes there are in China? Knowing that the Chinese government censors criticise harshly and consistently? Why? Here is my attempt to answer this question. Just like the face of China has changed beyond recognition over the last 30 years, so has China’s literary […]


By Yaxue Cao The disparaging of Mo Yan began before the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced on October 11 when rumor had it that Mo Yan was this year’s favorite. With the exception of the literarily versed, the criticism wasn’t based on his works, to be sure, but on a few events that had thus far shaped people’s perceptions of the man: Boycotting dissident writers during the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009; refusal to comment on Liu Xiaobo’s sentence in late 2009; and handcopying Mao Zedong’s Talks on Literature and Art earlier this year. (The Chongqing doggerel, turned up after the prize, wasn’t part of that perception, so I will leave it out of my discussion.) Since the prize, Mo Yan voiced his support for […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: March 1, 2012   It’s been a while since “he cha” (drink tea, 喝茶) came to mean, in certain contexts, “summoned and interrogated by the state security police.” A cup of tea may or may not, be present, but either way, it is “having tea” in the parlance of the Chinese netizens. It occurs like this: the interrogatee is called upon by at least two or more state security police at home or at work, approached by them somewhere else, or telephoned for a forced appointment. He cha itself occurs mostly in police stations, but also in secluded offices at workplaces or in schools; in some cases, in one’s home where security police show up at the door and force their […]


Liao Yiwu’s book, God Is Red, is one of the best I have ever read. Liao Yiwu’s work concerning Tian’anmen Square cost him 4-years in prison. His work with the currently imprisoned Nobel prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, caused further restrictions on his freedom in China and led to regular visits from the police. He was told that the publishing of God is Red would be considered a criminal offense. On July 2nd, 2011, he crossed the border into Vietnam, knowing that he would have to sacrifice his connection with his homeland in order to tell the stories of the people who lived there. It started a few years earlier while Liao was working on other projects. He met a number of Chinese Christians and became interested in their […]


On December 6, 2011, two days before the 3rd anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s arrest in 2008, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on “One Year after the Nobel Peace Prize Award to Liu Xiaobo: conditions for political prisoners and prospects for political reform.” Eight people spoke at the hearing. Mr. Perry Link, professor emeritus at University of California, Riverside, gave a quick but comprehensive introduction to Liu Xiaobo, his life, his education, his writings, and his imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power.” About Liu Xiaobo’s current situation, he said we knew very little and, as of late 2010, a rights group reported that Liu Xiaobo shared a cell with five other inmates, was allowed monthly visits only while other cell mates were […]


This week China was on holiday, and millions of people spent it traveling. On Oct. 1st alone, the start of the break for National Day, nearly 9 million people climbed aboard China’s busy trains. Thousands of mainland tourists visited Taiwan, with a few taking advantage of the newly relaxed restrictions that allow for travelling as an individual instead of in a group. Both governments hope that it will help to ease tensions between the two sides, but Taiwanese locals aren’t always so impressed by their mainland visitors. Despite the holiday, Xinhua (a state media company) did not miss the chance to point out the flaws in American democracy as Occupy Wall Street protests grew. In a single week Xinhua published more than 25 stories about […]


It’s very tempting at this moment to celebrate the release of Ai Weiwei, but the current situation is a painful reminder of just how far China has left to go before it actually respects Human Rights. The lead story today is that Ai Weiwei was released from prison on bail after confessing to his economic crimes (tax evasion). He has agreed to pay his fines, and is out because of good behavior in confessing and because of a chronic illness. Other sources add that this is partially in response to international calls for his release. Today, we’ll be picking this apart. It is wrong to say that Ai Weiwei is free. In the next few months there is a good chance that he will be […]


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