Yibao reporter Anna Chen
July 12, 2018
WASHINGTON – On the anniversary of the death of Mr. Liu Xiaobo, Initiatives for China has officially launched the Liu Xiaobo Research website and is openly soliciting articles from all sectors. The URL of the Liu Xiaobo Research website iswww.liuxiaobo.net.
On July 13, 2017, in the absence of freedom and cut off from contact with the outside world, Liu Xiaobo passed away. This was a major loss for China’s civil society and intellectual community. As a friend and supporter of Liu Xiaobo, Initiatives for China founder Dr. Yang Jianli believes: “We cannot talk about this loss in general terms. In addition, we must avoid the compounding of this loss over time. Therefore, undertaking research pertaining to Liu Xiaobo’s achievements and philosophy is an urgent matter.”
Admittedly, domestic political pressure and increasingly strict anti-free-speech measures cause great inconvenience for Liu Xiaobo-related research efforts, and the conditions for conducting such research are still insufficient. However, the website’s team of volunteers hopes that, through their work, they can make the public aware of the value and urgency of Liu Xiaobo-related research.
“Many people lack an understanding of Liu Xiaobo, whether in his lifetime or after his death, and there are even many misunderstandings and misconceptions. Liu Xiaobo wasn’t perfect, but he was always engaged in sincere exploration, which made him increasing mature and refined,” says Dr. Han Lianchao, vice-president of Initiatives for China. “Unfortunately, as he always lived under conditions of high political risk, it was difficult for him to speak freely without fear of consequences. Following his imprisonment in late-2008, Liu Xiaobo became completely isolated from the outside world. People lack an adequate understanding of him. Now, firstly, we must organize and preserve information regarding Liu Xiaobo’s life and achievements. This is part of history.”
Yang Jianli believes that Liu Xiaobo was not only a high-level thinker, but also a person committed to action. For decades, he observed and pondered changes in Chinese society, and from the special perspective of a democracy activist, he examined the behavior and strategy of civil movements. Some of his ideas appeared in his essays, while others were not fully expressed due to well-known reasons. “At the same time, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, especially after being released from prison in 1999, he became one of the most important Chinese dissidents. While continuing to write, he also served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and editor-in-chief of its online publication, and he was involved in human rights activities. Due to security reasons, obtaining information about this is difficult.”
“It is important that people recognize a complete Liu Xiaobo,” says Dr. Qiu Jiajun, director of the Citizen Power Institute. This should have been Liu Xiaobo’s responsibility after being released from prison, but now it can only be partially achieved by those who follow him.
“The main reason for undertaking research about Liu Xiaobo isn’t his fame or international recognition, but rather his continuous pursuit of serious thinking and exploration. This is a valuable asset. Researching Liu Xiaobo will enable us to understand the crux of many issues and will make us wiser. From the lifework of Liu Xiaobo, as a dissident who lived under immense pressure, there is not only experience to be derived, but also lessons to be learned. This is also an asset for us. We will adopt a rigorous attitude in our research on Liu Xiaobo, rather than simply praising his noble character and brave deeds. But no matter what, a better understanding of Liu Xiaobo is needed for a changing China,” says Qiu Jiajun.
The Liu Xiaobo Research website will be officially launched and operational as of July 13, 2018, and articles will be solicited from all sectors. The website’s primary purpose will be to gather relevant information. In addition to soliciting articles, the Citizen Power Institute will commence work through the website and other channels, contacting overseas universities, private thinktanks and other research institutions, and striving to collaborate on research related to Liu Xiaobo.