A few thoughts on Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo’s “release” from prison

The sad fate of Liu Xiaobo deserves our consideration. Some immediate random reflections:

  1. Given the increasingly frequent Chinese police practice of what I call “non-release ‘release’”, which usually means formal release from prison into another form of coercive confinement, one wonders how much freedom Liu will have to give us his final thoughts. The facts that it took a month for the news of his hospitalization to leak out and that he is confined in a Liaoning hospital rather than in Beijing suggest that he is far from a free man. Indeed his physical condition, as well as the conditions of confinement, may prevent access to the international and national media.

  2. The world community had largely forgotten Liu Xiaobo. The People’s Republic, through its economic prowess, its assertiveness in the South China Sea and its inability to bring North Korea to heel has managed to divert international attention from its vicious attack on the country’s human rights lawyers and others who have sought to follow Liu Xiaobo’s courageous example in promoting freedoms of expression.

  3. Liu’s fate is a sad reminder of two things: oppression in China did not begin with Xi Jinping, and things have become even worse under Xi.

  4. One hopes that this tragic situation will at least lead to the release of his wife, Liu Xia, from the totally lawless suppression of her freedoms that she has long suffered.

As a tribute to the absent Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Medal and Diploma were placed on an empty chair during the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway, 10 December 2010. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2010 Photo: Ken Opprann

As a tribute to the absent Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Medal and Diploma were placed on an empty chair during the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway, 10 December 2010.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2010
Photo: Ken Opprann