Liu Xiaobo

Chinese literary critic, writer, professor, and human rights activist

Liu Xiaobo (28 December 195513 July 2017) was a Chinese literary critic, writer, professor, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who called for political reforms and the end of communist single-party rule. He was incarcerated as a political prisoner in Jinzhou, Liaoning.


  • I hope that I will be the last victim in China's long record of treating words as crimes. Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.
    • NPR - "Liu Xiaobo: 'No Enemies, No Hatred,' Only Courage" 16 Feb. 2012
  • The political jokes people tell each other in private represent the conscience of the silent majority, and show us just how rotten are the foundations of post-totalitarian rule among the general public.

No Enemies, No Hate: Selected Essays and Poems

  • Resting beneath the mighty Communist regime is a civil society that remains weak. It doesn't have much courage and is not very sophisticated. As a civil society it is still in a nascent stage, and this is why we mus not expect it, in the near term, to produce a political organization that might replace the Communist regime.
    • "To Change a Regime by Changing a Society" (2009)
  • Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.
    • Charter 08
  • China's post-totalitarian era has two distinguishing characteristics. First, the rulers still want desperately to hold on to their dictatorial system in the midst of a crisis of legitimacy. Second, society no longer approves of such a system of dictatorship. A spontaneously growing civil society is gradually coming into being, and, although it does not yet have the strength to change the existing system, the increasing pluralism of its economy and its values, like water dripping on stone, is gradually eroding our rigid political monism.
    • The Spiritual Landscape of the Urban Young in Post-Totalitarian China" (2004)
  • Other than pleasure-seeking and consumerism, it seems that the only fruit of our social development is a cancerous overgrowth of "the rational economic man": maximize personal gain, and that's all.
    • The Spiritual Landscape of the Urban Young in Post-Totalitarian China" (2004)
  • In China's communist era, despite all of the rhetoric about internationalism and "liberation of mankind" during the Mao years, the regime, especially in its claims to legitimacy, has consistently stressed nationalism. Nationalism has taken different forms at different stages - an arrogant, bellicose style under Mao; a pragmatic, defensive style under Deng Xiaoping; and a resurgence of the arrogant, bellicose style under Jiang Zemin - but the underlying passions that shape the policies have always been caught up in a vicious cycle between self-abasement and self-aggrandizement.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2002)
  • The worship of violence marks a reversion to barbarism for human civilization. This reversion happens most easily inside autocratic political systems, and the extent of the return to caveman impulses in in direct proportion to the barbarity of the autocracy within which it takes place: the more barbaric the dictatorship, the more devoutly the people will worship violence.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2002)
  • The nostalgia for Mao Zedong that we see in China today is in part a longing of the poor and downtrodden - the losers in the economic boom - for the egalitarianism an job security of the Mao era. But it is more than that. For the "patriots" in today's rabid nationalism, it is nostalgia for a time when China dared to say "no" to both of the world's superpowers, the Us.S. and the Soviet Union.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2002)
  • When a people like ours, who struggle with feelings of inferiority, have to face the facts of inadequate national strength, or of less than full respect from others, one way we try to feel better is to grab onto any piece of historical material that can make us proud.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2002)
  • "Ultra-nationalism" stands naked as nothing but a euphemism for the worship of violence in service of autocratic goals - be they the terrorism and holy war of Islamic fundamentalists or the refusal of dictatorial systems to accept political democracy.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2002)
  • In its actual power today, the Chinese regime is still far behind the U.S., and there is no chance of its becoming a world hegemon any time soon.
    • "Bellicose and Thuggish: The Roots of Chinese "Patriotism" at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century"
  • In a totalitarian state, the purpose of politics is power and power alone. The "nation" and its peoples are mentioned only to give an air of legitimacy to the application of power. The people accept this devalued existence, asking only to live from day to day.
    • "On Living with Dignity in China"
  • In the conflict between survival of the flesh and dignity of the spirit, if we cower to preserve ourselves, we become mere zombies, despite our trappings of prosperity. If we stand up for our dignity, we live nobly, no matter how much we may risk or suffer.
    • "On Living with Dignity in China"
  • Admittedly, righteousness is weak unless it is backed by power, but power devoid of righteousness is evil. If most people cast their lot with the latter, then evil will prey forever upon humankind, as wolves and tigers prey upon lambs.
    • "On Living with Dignity in China"
  • Power and money reign supreme in our nation today. Universities count for nothing, and scholarship and ideas count for even less. Love, truth, and sacrifice are meaningless concepts, while betrayal and collective amnesia are taken as a matter of course.
  • "Elegy to Lin Zhao, Lone Voice of Chinese Freedom" (2004)
  • My view as a Chinese is that Obama's elevation to the position of 44th president of the United States underscores the greatness of the American system.
    • "Obama's Election, The Republican Factor, and a Proposal for China" (2008)
  • We must note that speaking truth to power has rewards as well as costs. People who dare to speak out about major public events may not receive tangible benefits, but they receive the very considerable rewards of high moral reputation among fellow Chinese as well as in the international community.
    • "Using Truths to Undermine a System Built of Lies"
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