No enemies, philosophy of Nobel laureate Liu

During a hunger strike days before the Chinese army crushed the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement on June 4, 1989, the man who would become China’s best known dissident, Liu Xiaobo, declared: “We have no enemies.”
When being tried in 2009 on charges of inciting subversion of state power for helping write Charter 08 — a pro-democracy manifesto calling for an end to one-party rule — Liu reaffirmed: “I have no enemies and no hatred.”
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison that same year, drawing protests from the US, many European governments and rights groups, which condemned the stiff sentence and called for his early release.
Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Liu, 61, died on Thursday of multiple organ failure, the government of the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang said. His wife, Liu Xia, had said previously her husband wanted to dedicate the Nobel prize to those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Liu Xia had been living under house arrest since her husband won the Nobel prize, but was allowed to visit him in prison about once a month.
Liu had been a thorn in Beijing’s side since 1989, when he helped negotiate a deal to allow protesters to leave Tiananmen Square before troops and tanks rolled in.
Charter 08 alarmed the Communist Party more for the 350 signatures he collected than its content, political analysts said. The manifesto was modelled on the Charter 77 petition that became a rallying call for the human rights movement in communist Czechoslovakia in 1977.
He was much better known abroad than at home due to a government ban on Internet and state media discussion of the Tiananmen protests, and of him, aside from the occasional editorial condemning him. Liu was considered a moderate by fellow dissidents and international rights groups. But they say the Communist Party is insecure and paranoid, fearing anyone or anything it perceives as a threat to stability. In 2003, Liu wrote an essay, calling for the embalmed corpse of Chairman Mao Zedong to be removed from a mausoleum on Tiananmen Square. Mao is still a demigod to many in China.
A hero to many in the West, Liu was branded a traitor by Chinese nationalists.
He had come under fire from nationalists for his comments in a 2006 interview with Hong Kong’s now-defunct Open magazine in which he said China would “need 300 years of colonisation for it to become like what Hong Kong is today”.
Liu’s critics were suspicious of the motives of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, noting that Liu praised the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The third of five boys, Liu was born in Changchun, capital of the northeastern province of Jilin, on December 28, 1955.
In 1970, at age 15, Liu was with his parents when they were sent to a labour camp in the region of Inner Mongolia at the height of the Cultural Revolution.
After the Cultural Revolution, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Chinese literature from Jilin University and obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees from Beijing Normal University.
Liu had been in and out of prison and labour camps four times, excluding brief periods of house arrest ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries.
His first brush with incarceration came after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, when he spent 18 months at the notorious Qincheng penitentiary for political prisoners. Liu was charged with counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement, but a Beijing court exempted him from criminal action because he had negotiated with martial-law troops for student protesters to leave the square before tanks rolled in.
Police held him without charge on the outskirts of Beijing between May 1995 and January 1996, for drafting and circulating a petition calling for democracy and rule of law in the run-up to the sixth anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.
Liu Xiaobo married Liu Xia in 1997, during his three years of “re-education” at a labour camp in the northeastern city of Dalian. — Reuters