Fact-Checking Liu Xiaobo Critics

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitch-in-wanderlust/5248918054/">Michele Travierso</a>/Flickr

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned activist who was awarded this year’s Peace prize for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,” is best known for his participation in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and penning articles discouraging violence as a tool of pro-democracy Chinese dissidents. But according to his critics, he’s also a fervent supporter of US-led wars.

Last Wednesday, Hong Kong-based professors Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong published a piece in The Guardian arguing that the Western media and Nobel committee have failed to recognize Liu’s support of US war-efforts in Vietnam—and that Liu’s imprisonment “was unnecessary,” because “If Liu’s politics were well-known, most people would not favour him for a prize, because he is a champion of war, not peace.” To support this point, they cite a quote (translated below) from Liu’s 1996 essay, “Lessons From the Cold War“:

The free world led by the US fought almost all regimes that trampled on human rights…The major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible.

Since an English translation of Liu’s essay doesn’t seem to exist, we read his essay in its original Mandarin, but we were unable to locate the quote Sautman and Yan mentioned. Just to be sure, we had another multilingual friend spot-check us, but he couldn’t find it either. Looks like Sautman and Yan broadly misquoted the Nobel prize-winner at best. At worst, they deliberately fabricated his views about US involvement in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. One thing they didn’t mention: Liu’s essay was less concerned with the West’s involvement in the Cold War, and is ultimately more interested in China’s human rights failures [PDF], stating:

It was not the Americans that destroyed Communist authoritarianism, but that was caused by the self-destructive forces of this system’s anti-human nature.

 

 

 

 

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate