Liu Xiaobo

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo (lyōō shoubō), 1955–, Chinese literary critic, poet, and political and human-rights activist, b. Changchun, grad. Jilin Univ. (B.A., 1982), Beijing Normal Univ. (M.A., 1984; Ph.D., 1988). He taught literature at Beijing Normal, published widely, and in the 1980s became known for his fiery lectures and scathing literary criticism. Beginning in 1988 Liu was a visiting scholar at such universities as Hawaii, Oslo, and Columbia, where he was teaching when the Tiananmen Square protests began in 1989. Returning to China, he assumed a leadership role in the protests, advocated nonviolence and democracy, attempted to negotiate, undertook a hunger strike, and was imprisoned for 21 months. Since then he has been barred from publishing in China (though he has sometimes done so pseudonymously and also has published abroad), and after his release from prison he was blacklisted from Chinese academia. In 1995–96 and 1996–99 Liu was again imprisoned for his political activities. In 2008 he coauthored Charter 08, which called for political and human-rights reforms and multiparty democracy. He was arrested, charged with "incitement of subversion of state power," and after a closed one-day trial (2009) sentenced to 11 years in prison. Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He was the first Chinese citizen to win the award. Despite China's many bans on his work, by the 2010s Liu had published 17 books and hundreds of articles and poems. No Enemies, No Hatred (2012), a collection of his essays and poems that spans two decades and provides insights into many aspects of contemporary Chinese life, is the first of his works to appear in English translation.

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