December 10, 2010 / 3:12 PM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Who is Liu Xiaobo?

(Reuters) - Here are some facts about Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in an Oslo ceremony derided by Beijing as a political farce.

He dedicated the award from his prison cell to the “lost souls” of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

LIU AS 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 made 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.

MOST RECENT CONVICTION:

* 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 itself and the 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.

LIFE DETAILS:

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

* 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 led 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 was president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and holds a seat on its board.

* The absence of the laureate was symbolized at Friday’s Oslo ceremony by an empty chair and a large portrait of Liu, bespectacled and smiling. After his speech, the Nobel award was placed on the chair, amid applause. It was the first time a detained laureate has not been formally represented by anyone at the awards gala since Nazi Germany barred pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from attending in 1935.

NOBEL CONTROVERSY:

* China awarded its first “Confucius Peace Prize” to former Taiwan vice-president Lien Chan on Thursday in Beijing, China’s answer to the Nobel Peace Prize. Lien was not present and a girl who organizers did not identify collected the $15,000 cash prize.

— Lien, now honorary chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist or KMT party, has not commented publicly on the prize.

* Numerous Chinese activists, including Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, were detained or prevented from leaving the country before the Nobel ceremony.

Sources: Reuters/ www.nobel.org / www.pen.org / www.liuxiaobo.eu /

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Additional writing by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina;

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