Skip to content Skip to navigation

About Liu Xiaobo

April 9, 2010

Liu Xiaobo, a prominent independent intellectual in China, is a long-time advocate of political reform and human rights in China, and an outspoken critic of the Chinese communist regime. Liu has been detained, put under house arrest, and imprisoned many times for his writing and activism. According to his lawyers’ defense statement in his 2009 trial, Liu has written nearly 800 essays, 499 of them since 2005. Liu is a drafter and a key proponent of Charter 08.

Liu was born on December 28, 1955 in Changchun, Jilin. He received a BA in literature from Jilin University, and an MA and PhD from Beijing Normal University, where he also taught.

In April 1989, he left his position as a visiting scholar at Columbia University to return to Beijing to participate in the 1989 Democracy Movement. On June 2, Liu, along with Hou Dejian, Zhou Duo, and Gao Xin, went on a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square to protest martial law and appeal for peaceful negotiations between the students and the government. In the early morning of June 4, 1989, the four attempted to persuade the students to leave Tiananmen Square. After the crackdown, Liu was held in Beijing’s Qincheng Prison until January 1991, when he was found guilty of “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” but exempted from punishment.

In 1996, he was sentenced to three years of Reeducation-Through-Labor on charges of “rumor-mongering and slander” and “disturbing social order” after drafting the “Anti-Corruption Proposals” and letters appealing for official reassessment of the June Fourth crackdown.

On December 8, 2008, Liu was taken away from his Beijing home and detained by the Beijing police, and on December 25, 2009, more than a year later, he was found guilty of “inciting sub-version of state power.” By early March 2010, more than 600 co-signatories of Charter 08 signed an online “statement of shared responsibility” with Liu for his “crime.”

Liu served as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007. In addition to Columbia University, he was a visiting scholar at the University of Oslo and the University of Hawaii.

Liu is married to Liu Xia, a poet and visual artist whose work is featured throughout this issue.

Explore Topics

Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention Arbitrary Detention Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue
Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship Children Chinese Law
Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists Citizen Participation Civil Society Communist Party Of China
Consumer Safety Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current and Political Events Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China Family Planning
Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion Government Accountability
Government regulation Government transparency Heilongjiang Lawyers’ Detention Historical Anecdotes Hong Kong House Arrest
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights updates Ideological Contest Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power
Information Control  Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International Relations
International Window Internet Internet Governance Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Legal World Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC)
New Citizens Movement Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics Online Activism Open Government Information Personal Story
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Propaganda
Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor Rights Defenders
Rights Defense Rule Of Law Special Topic State compensation State Secrets State Security
Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories Tiananmen Mothers Tibet
Torture Typical cases United Nations Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women
Youth Youth Perspective