“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Enemy Of The People: Liu Xiaobo

with 23 comments

No doubt, the apologists and intellectual lackeys of the Chinese ruling classes will argue that Liu Xiaobo was an agent of Western imperialism, or maybe even the Dalai Lama, etc., or some such nonsense, but the Guardian has more on him:

“One of China’s most prominent human rights activists was condemned today to 11 years in prison, prompting a furious backlash from domestic bloggers and international civil society groups.

Liu Xiaobo, the founder of the Charter 08 campaign for constitutional reform, was given the unusually harsh jail term on Christmas Day in an apparent attempt to minimise international attention.

The case has raised fears that other drafters of Charter 08 could also face retribution from the authorities.

Following a year in detention and a two-hour trial, it took the No 1 intermediate people’s court in Beijing just 10 minutes to read out the 11-page sentence.

Liu was found guilty on Wednesday of subversion, the vaguely defined charge that Communist party leaders often use to imprison political opponents.

In a statement released by the state-controlled Xinhua news agency, the court said it had “strictly followed the legal procedures” and “fully protected Liu’s litigation rights”.

However, the author and academic had been detained without trial for a year. His wife, Liu Xia, was not allowed into an earlier hearing, nor were foreign diplomatic observers. Liu’s lawyers have been warned not to discuss the case.

But the defence team said they were prepared to appeal against the verdict.

“We cannot accept this sentence because we have argued in court that Liu is innocent,” said one of his lawyers, Mo Shaoping. His wife could not be reached as her mobile phone was suddenly out of order.

Amnesty International expressed outrage at the sentence, which it said was the harshest in 35 subversion cases since 2003.”

I wonder how that will be spun?

Update 1: The Age has more:

“IN AN unequivocal rebuke to those pursuing political reforms, a Chinese court has convicted Liu Xiaobo, one of the country’s best-known dissidents, of subversion and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Liu, 53, a literature professor and a vocal critic of China’s single-party political system, was detained in December 2008 after he helped create a petition known as Charter 08 that demanded the right to free speech, open elections and many other liberties.

The 11-page verdict, largely a restatement of his indictment, was read yesterday morning at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court by a court official, said Liu’s lawyer, Shang Baojun.

In addition to his prison term, Liu will be deprived of his political rights for an additional two years,which will prevent him from writing or speaking out on a wide range of issues.”

Update 2: I forgot I had covered some of these issues coming up on this topic before, under Sinophobia Or Legitimate Political Criticism?

Written by modernityblog

25/12/2009 at 14:53

23 Responses

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  1. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

    Merry Christmas, Mod!


    25/12/2009 at 15:08

  2. Mesquito is too naive and somehow stupid. Do you really know that China is and will be? If you don’t, just shut up. You don’t expect to hear anything valuable from a fool.


    26/12/2009 at 05:52

  3. Leggar,

    Please do NOT be abusive to my other readers, no one has attacked you , so you should be polite, or your comments will simply vanish.

    I believe that Mesq is making a humorous point, not that I agree with Friedman, but I can see why Mesq made it.


    26/12/2009 at 12:59

  4. I wonder if any westen bloggers really know Liu’s work, e.g. his famous tagline “the only hope of china is 200 years of colonisation by usa” (in some of his own articles it’s 300 years). Attention, it’s not a metaphor, he meant it.

    Although I hate this person for his political view points, I agree that he has right to say/write anything he wants. My contention is that news articles and blogs should’ve also included his outrageous remarks rather than abstract such as “prominent human rights activists”. It’s not a simple story about “human right activist” VS. “evil communist government”.


    27/12/2009 at 02:13

  5. The abuse makes me feel right at home, mod.


    27/12/2009 at 02:14

  6. We won’t have any of that here, particularly when you were polite from the outset.

    I don’t mind the odd joke or witty barb but I’ll not have people wandering in and being abusive, without reason.


    27/12/2009 at 02:25

  7. linan,

    So are you saying it is wrong to lock him up, for his views? For expressing his views?


    27/12/2009 at 03:08

  8. modernityblog, my points are:
    1, I found no major media disclosed Liu’s outrageous political view points.
    2, I argue these political view points are very important background materials in this case and should’ve been presented to any reader for sake of balance.
    3, Why nobody mentioned?
    4, What else are ignored/screened from media?
    5, Without a balanced story, I don’t know if he’s jailed just because of expressing his views.

    for me personally, he is just another human right celebrity spoiled by media, who has no original idea, done nothing constructive. it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money feeding him in prison.


    27/12/2009 at 16:50

  9. Liu’s sentence is symbolic, and there are several other reasons for Liu’s sentence other than the commonly known “no freedom of expression”.

    Western nations’ involvement has also complicated the issue.

    China has its own approach to democracy; the West is bias as it sees the “communists’ way of democracy still as communism”.

    I have written an article on this issue:


    27/12/2009 at 16:55

  10. linan,

    Frankly, you haven’t engaged with my question, I’ll try again:

    Do you think he should be locked up for expressing his views? Yes or No?


    27/12/2009 at 21:00

  11. Hi Feng,

    I think the sentence is hardly symbolic, if that were the case then he would have been given 28 days or some minimal sentence, rather than years and years in jail, for his opinions.

    “China has its own approach to democracy;”

    I am afraid that l’exception Sino does not really work.

    Of course, every country thinks they have their own approach to democracy, making them an exception, but that doesn’t factually work when it comes to China.

    It is simple enough, you must just ask the question, who has the power in the country? and how are they held to account?

    If the latter question elicits the answer: “they are not held to account” then there is little or no democracy.

    When the people (as a people) can change their rulers when they please on a regular basis then that will be some form of democracy, but until then you have a largely self-perpetuating dictatorship in China.

    And it is no use suggesting that they are an exception, you either have it or you don’t.


    27/12/2009 at 21:21

  12. Dear modernityblog,

    In my article, I’ve pointeed out three reasons for his sentence:
    1. wrong timing of publishing charter 08
    2. involvement of the western nations complicated the issue, increasing Liu’s suspicion for his attempt to overthrow the government. Look at Da Lai Lama and Redeer you’ll know, though these two are actually involved in attempting to overthrow the government.
    3. CCP has yet achieved much in its democracy experiments.
    On the side note, you have to be reminded that Asia has different culture as that of the west. Even a cosmopolitan city like Singapore still have death sentence. Asian countries are traditionally harsher when punishing people. It’s just like in Economics we talk about purchasing power parity, there is an exchange rate when it comes to punishments.

    And I still think my argument that “China has its own approach to democracy” worked. Once again, I am referring to my article.
    In retrospect, the western nations’ way to democratizing the nations is violent. The underlying reason is that it was an overnight revolution and not a transition, eg France, U.K., America. And I think Taiwan’s transition from totalitarian rule to today’s democracy is quite smooth. From 1949 to 1990s, Taiwan took nearly 5 decades. Even now, its democracy is still considered rather chaotic. Some will argue that China is taking a longer time but they fail to consider the size of China and its multicultural feature– it has 56 ethnic groups. And it’s cultural diversity further strengthened the necessity of an administration of central rule.
    Yes, you’ll say U.S. is big and is democratic. But does U.S. has that many ethnic groups? Also, the western style of democracy doesn’t necessary mean living standards will increase. California, with its voter initiative, has the worst budget deficit across the nation.
    In my perspective, China is working towards representative democracy. Its interpretation of democracy will definitely be different from that of the west.
    You’ve also mentioned “changing the rulers on a regular basis”. I’m not sure if you have realized how dangerous that statement is. In the history of communist rule, transition of power has never been smooth until recently. If you introduce democracy right away, I wonder how is Hu Jingtao going to pass on the baton to his successor. And consider the population of China– 1.3bn! If you change adminstraion on a regular basis, the policies the government will be changing regularly as well. Today you have a business-friendly government and the next day you might have a government that prefers to close its doors to outsiders. The uncertainty created by regular changing the administration is enormous– 1.3bn people will have to change their lifestyle regularly as well and you have to note that not all of them are educated. So some will just go on having a worsening living standards without knowing why.

    Mao Zedong has embraced Hundred Flowers Campaign where he allows freedom of speech but things just chaotic later on.

    And it is also incorrect to say “you either have it or you don’t”. When new ideologies arises, contemporary environment is always unfavorable because people are not used to it. When Galileo pointed out the earth revolves around the sun, who believed? When China opened its doors in 1978, who thought capitalism (or partially of that) could live with communist rule side by side without causing much conflict.

    If you say you either have it or you don’t then tell me if America or the Europe is a marked-led economy? Democracies is suppose to have everything ran by the people with the state imposing minimum intervention but increasingly, we are beginning to see that socialism has appeared in these places, like the Healthcare Reform. Ultimately, I am saying that the politicians today are forgetting about the ideologies their parties are built upon and turning themselves to realpolitik and pragmatism.


    28/12/2009 at 02:39

  13. modernityblog,
    frankly, i don’t know. your question is theoretical while every case differentiates in contexts. to me, your question is like “red colour is black, yes or no?”
    my turn. do you really know Liu’s political views, and his arguments? do you really care? imho, he is racist against his own people.

    feng, I think it’s inaccurate to use the term “democracy” onto the development of chinese political landscape. is the term so important and self-justified? in the end of a day, it’s just a social arrangement for communication.


    28/12/2009 at 05:33

  14. Hi linan,
    I agree with you; that’s the sort of idea I have in mind. The western nations only knows democracy and communism, nothing falls in between and nothing falls outside them.
    What I mean is a new political ideology that China is in the process of working towards– might just be China model, yet the western nations think that this is still communism=totalitarianism.


    28/12/2009 at 06:53

  15. linan,

    No, my question was not theoretical.

    It was very specific concerning a specific individual, thus it was not theoretical.

    If you can’t give me a candid answer then I am left to assume that either you don’t want to, you’re frightened of doing so or the point doesn’t have any significance to you.

    Either way, putting it simply, if you think it is right to lock people up for their views, then that is a fate which you, or anyone that you know, could suffer for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

    That is the marker of an authoritarian dictatorship, even if you can’t admit it.


    28/12/2009 at 16:05

  16. modernityblo,
    Your question is indeed theoretical/abstract because of lacking of context. how can i possibly know if the guy expresses views that are restricted by law?

    So you have problems with the Public Order Act 1986? is freedom of expression without any restriction? lecture me please if i misunderstand anything:


    28/12/2009 at 16:31

  17. Linan,

    That’s a good argument about 1986 public order act, fair play.

    But it excludes four obvious differences:

    1)as far as I know no one has ever been given an eight-year custodial sentence under the public order act or anywhere close
    2) if the public order act were repealed tomorrow, then the situation concerning Liu Xiaobo was still exist, and should be examined on its own merits
    3)any trial would be open to the public and the evidence would have to stand up for itself, that’s not the case in Liu Xiaobo’s trial (shown as you, yourself, do not know which of his views are restricted by law in China)
    4) Liu Xiaobo sentence was a foregone conclusion, even before the trial, commentators knew he would be found guilty, a rather significant difference between that and the public order act of 1986, where innocence is assumed until proven guilty.

    All very bourgeois, all very western, if you so wish.

    Frankly, I don’t think people should be given long custodial sentences just for their ***views***, whatever country they are in.


    29/12/2009 at 01:02

  18. modernityblog,

    thanks. i’m not going to go through your 4 points — half of them are not solid arguments — because it will lead this conversation to nowhere but endless google, wikipedia work. actually there is another way to put Liu into jail for his views: defamation x 1.3 billion Chinese. ccp is just not creative enough in modern law games. well, let’s leave the details to lawyers and back to common sense.

    i think i’ve proven my point: it is necessary, if not very important, to know Liu’s views in this case.

    how about we call it a day after you answer my questions: do you know Liu’s political views, arguments? do you even care?

    my problem with the whole media reporting on Liu’s case is that nobody bothers to do their homework, just can’t wait to claim moral high ground. the sad fact is, bloggers are not any better.


    29/12/2009 at 04:12

  19. thank you, linan, I wondered when you’d start accusing people of arguing in bad faith.


    29/12/2009 at 12:42

  20. modernity,
    your wonder is irrelevant.

    Frankly, you haven’t engaged with my questions, I’ll try again:

    do you know Liu’s political views, arguments? do you even care?


    30/12/2009 at 04:50

  21. On the contrary, very relevant, because once *you* start arguing in bad faith then there is little point in continuing an exchange of views.

    As you think my views are irrelevant I am not really interested in your question. Simple really, not that I suspect you’ll see the connection between the two.


    30/12/2009 at 10:43

  22. Liu Xiaobo has received hundreds of thousands of US government funding via the NED in the past five years. Check NED’s China grants for Independent Chinese Pen Center and Minzhu Zhongguo magazine, which Liu heads.

    If Liu is American he would be in violation of FARA (Froeign Agent Registration Act).


    09/01/2010 at 02:10

  23. Got a link for that?

    So? Does China do much the same?

    Anyways it wouldn’t change the nature of the regime, would it?


    09/01/2010 at 02:30

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