World News

Factbox: Who is Liu Xiaobo?

LONDON (Reuters) - Here are some facts about Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. China declared on Tuesday most nations supported its call to boycott this week’s Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for the jailed dissident.


* Liu was prominent in the 1989 pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square that were crushed by armed troops, and was jailed for 20 months.

* In 1995, Liu orchestrated several daring petitions to parliament by groups of dissidents and intellectuals. He was held for more than seven months without formal charges.

* On September 30, 1996, Liu and veteran pro-democracy activist Wang Xizhe issued a statement urging the communist authorities to honor a promise in 1945 to give people religious freedom, freedom of the press and speech, and the freedom to form political parties and hold demonstrations.

* They demanded that Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin be indicted for violating the constitution for saying the Chinese army was under the “absolute leadership” of the party instead of the state.

* Within weeks, Liu was sentenced to three years in a labor camp.


* In December 2008, he helped to organize the “Charter 08” petition, which called for sweeping political reforms. It was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

* He was detained almost immediately and held for six months under house arrest.

* A group of prominent foreign academics, lawyers and writers including several Nobel laureates wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao asking for Liu’s release.

* In December 2009, Liu was jailed for 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power” for his role in the petition and for online essays critical of the Communist Party.

* The case and unusually harsh sentence drew protests from Western governments and rights activists at home and abroad.

* In May, Liu was moved to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning, his home province.


-- Liu Xiaobo was born on December 28, 1955, in the city of Changchun in Jilin province.

-- After middle school, he was sent to the countryside to work in farms, then worked at a construction company in Changchun.

-- In 1977, he was admitted to study Chinese literature at Jilin University, and created a poetry group with six fellow students: The Innocent Hearts (Chi Zi Xin).

-- In 1982, he began postgraduate literature studies at Beijing Normal University, starting an academic career that would lead to a professor’s position at the university.

-- In 1987, his first book, “Criticism of the Choice: Dialogues with Li Zehou,” on philosophy and aesthetics, became a non-fiction bestseller. It challenged the ideas of professor Li Zehou, a rising ideological star with great influence on young intellectuals.

-- Liu worked as a visiting scholar at the universities of Oslo and Hawaii and at Columbia University in New York.

-- He returned to China as student protests broke out in Beijing in 1989. His third book, “The Fog of Metaphysics,” a comprehensive review of Western philosophies, was published the same year.

-- He served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and holds a seat on its board.

-- An empty chair is to represent Liu at Friday’s awards ceremony and symbolize China’s policies to isolate and repress dissidents, a top Nobel official told Reuters.

Sources: Reuters/ / / /

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;