No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems

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When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on December 10, 2010, its recipient, Liu Xiaobo, was in Jinzhou Prison, serving an eleven-year sentence for what Beijing called “incitement to subvert state power.” In Oslo, actress Liv Ullmann read a long statement the activist had prepared for his 2009 trial. It read in part: “I stand by the convictions I expressed in my ‘June Second Hunger Strike Declaration’ twenty years ago—I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies.”

That statement is one of the pieces in this book, which includes writings spanning two decades, providing insight into all aspects of Chinese life. These works not only chronicle a leading dissident’s struggle against tyranny but enrich the record of universal longing for freedom and dignity. Liu speaks pragmatically, yet with deep-seated passion, about peasant land disputes, the Han Chinese in Tibet, child slavery, the CCP’s Olympic strategy, the Internet in China, the contemporary craze for Confucius, and the Tiananmen massacre. Also presented are poems written for his wife, Liu Xia, public documents, and a foreword by Václav Havel.

This collection is an aid to reflection for Western readers who might take for granted the values Liu has dedicated his life to achieving for his homeland.

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About the Author:

Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is a Chinese writer and human rights activist.

Perry Link is retired from a career teaching at Princeton University and now is Chancellorial Chair for Teaching Across Disciplines at the University of California, Riverside. He publishes on Chinese language, literature, and cultural history, and also writes and speaks on human rights in China.

Tienchi Martin-Liao born in Nanjing, China and educated in Taiwan and Germany-has dedicated much of her life to advocating for democracy and human rights in China. Martin-Liao has authored and translated numerous books on Chinese cultural and social subjects, and frequently appears in the US and international media as an expert on Chinese human rights issues. She is currently the Senior Research Analyst and the Editor-in-Chief at the Laogai Research Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Liu Xia, the wife of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, is a painter, poet, and photographer from Beijing, China. Since her husband's formal arrest in 2009, Liu Xia has often had to speak out on behalf of her husband in the public arena.


The message contained in this book is so powerful that Liu has been imprisoned solely for exercising his right to free expression. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu is a testament to the strength of his message and to all the Chinese activists who sacrificed their lives and so much else in the pursuit of freedom and democracy in China. The essays of Liu Xiaobo have inspired freedom loving people not only in China but around the world. (Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader)

Liu Xiaobo insists on "living in truth." Each time I re-read his astute essays and merciless self-dissections, I am struck again: here truly is a different kind of Chinese intellectual. The essential value of the essays in this volume springs from that very source: Liu Xiaobo lives in truth; he is different. (Ding Zilin, Founder of the Tiananmen Mothers)

Presented in a lucid and persuasive manner with obvious but well restrained moral passion, this book offers a leading Chinese intellectual dissident's thoughts over the past two decades on his persistent efforts to bring about a free, democratic and civilized China. Liu's engagé writings keep alive the modern Chinese tradition of intellectual pursuit of liberal democracy and constitute another page of individual struggle for human freedom and dignity. This book is for anyone who is concerned with a better China and a better world. (Josephine Chiu-Duke, University of British Colombia)

The massacre in Beijing in 1989 turned Liu Xiaobo, almost literally overnight, toward passionate pursuit of democracy, constitutional government, and respect for the dignity of the individual person. The quest has sent him to prison four times, yet he insists that he "has no enemies." Some day, I am sure, his works will be available in China for his fellow citizens to read and discuss. He has never let go of the present, and is sure to win the future. He belongs to China--just as China, in part, belongs to him. (Pu Zhiqiang, rights lawyer, Beijing)

The voice of Liu Xiaobo, though silenced in his motherland, is a voice that conveys the long-cherished aspirations of the Chinese people. It is our good fortune that we now have this voice in English translation which, while faithful to the original meaning, also preserves the power of his original message. (Ying-shih Yu, Princeton University)

Liu Xiaobo's brilliant essays express more than political dissidence in China. They do that too, heroically. But they are also the work of a first rate literary intellectual, whose ideas are of universal value. In three words: sharp, witty, and above all, humane. (Ian Buruma, author of Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing)

I am happy to learn that the selected writings of Liu Xiaobo are being published in a book entitled No Enemies, No Hatred. In 2008, when hundreds of Chinese intellectuals and concerned citizens inspired by Liu Xiaobo signed Charter 08, calling for democracy and freedom in China, I was personally moved and expressed my admiration for their courage and their goals in public. The international community also recognized Liu Xiaobo's valuable contribution in urging China to take steps towards political, legal and constitutional reforms by supporting the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him in 2010. Considering the writer himself remains imprisoned, this book is a powerful reminder of his courage and his vision for a new China. I believe that in the coming years, future generations of Chinese will enjoy the fruits of the efforts that Chinese citizens today are making towards the introduction of a more open and responsible governance. I would also like to take this opportunity to renew my call to the Chinese government to release him and other prisoners of conscience. (The Dalai Lama)

Freedom of expression may be irritating to some, but its absence is harmful to all. Without the freedom of expression there can be no lasting progress because without critical voices in the society there is no protection against error and abuse in the exercise of power. Liu Xiaobo is paying a harsh price for speaking out. I invite you to read his work, as a tribute to his courage, and as an inspiration for your own. (Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee)

During the Nobel ceremony in December 2010, an empty chair was placed in Oslo City Hall to honor Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, whose outspokenness not only earned him the prize but a prison term as well. The award catapulted him to international stardom, shining a penetrating light on his own imprisonment much as he had often shined light on the troubles of his country. These essays provide an up-to-date account of the country's current political and cultural climate, touching on a wide array of issues from the plight of the Chinese farmer to the eroding spirituality of Chinese youth. The essays are tempered by poems, many of which are interwoven throughout the book to provide a much-needed calming effect. Yet Liu Xiaobo's widespread appeal comes not from his poetry, but in his ability to move beyond platitudes and deal in personal stories--e.g., the tale of a local police department's gross mishandling of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl and the protests that developed soon after. Equally powerful is the author's assault on China's closed society, noting that while prostitution is technically illegal in China, thanks to sexual suppression, China is now "number one in the world."...For the world that knew Liu Xiaobo only for his empty chair in Oslo, this much-needed book fills the void. (Kirkus Reviews 2011-10-01)

Liu, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate currently imprisoned in China for "incitement to subvert state power," registers wide-ranging dissent against the Chinese system in these withering essays and stark poems ("From the grins of corpses/ you've learned/ that it is only death/ that never fails"). Included are manifestos and trial statements denouncing China's dictatorship and calling for human rights, free speech, and democracy. Other pieces criticize the subtler corruptions of a repressive society: the frenzied nationalism of the Beijing Olympics; mass evictions and child slavery; soulless urban youth; the craze for Confucius, whom the author views as a mediocrity whose legacy is a Chinese "slave mentality"; the guilty compromises that prodemocracy leaders--himself included--make to protect themselves. Liu's alienation comes through in his strong, if conflicted, identification with Western ideals, Madisonian politics, and crypto-Catholic religiosity ("we will have passion, miracles and beauty as long as we have the example of Jesus Christ")...Though personal and idiosyncratic at times, Liu's ringing universalist defense of democratic rights and freedoms will resonate with American readers. (Publishers Weekly 2011-10-03)

It is scarcely credible that the government of a country of 1.4 billion people, one of the largest economies, an emergent great power that is flexing its muscle in all directions, can be so scared of one individual, a writer whose crime is to write about what is happening in China and to disseminate his ideas online. What has [Liu] done that is so bad? Only by reading his work can we find out. Liu's colleagues outside China, Perry Link and Tienchi Martin-Liao, and Liu Xia, are to be thanked for a timely compilation in English that introduces the man and his thoughts from his early years as a literary critic at a Beijing university to his status as the new century's most famous Chinese intellectual, even while he is silenced and incarcerated in his country. It's gutsy for Harvard University Press to publish it, too. Harvard has interests in China, as do many institutions these days. Just to mention Liu Xiaobo's name is taboo for Chinese academics, and even academics outside China can be wary of discussing his work in case they offend officialdom. No Enemies, No Hatred lets us judge for ourselves. It covers a range of recent hot topics in China: the role of sex and political humor in contemporary culture, the Confucius revival, the Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong, Tibet, Obama, Jesus Christ. There's commentary on abuses that attracted grassroots protest: farmers evicted from their land, children forced into slave labor, violent crimes unpunished and covered up. (Nicholas Jose The Australian 2011-10-05)

Though he is an equal in many respects to Václav Havel, who contributed a foreword to this volume, Liu is not as literary a figure. Instead, his voice is humble and inelegant, if vigorous. Liu's style reflects his enthusiastic adoption of the Internet, and his strong identification with netizens everywhere. His writing would be simply informative if his subjects were not so urgent, and the clarity of his moral stance not so gem-hard, crystal-clear, and necessary. (Michael Autrey Booklist 2011-12-15)

Like so many who admire Liu Xiaobo--a Chinese author and critic who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work--until I read No Enemies, No Hatred, I was so awed by his nobility as a fighter that I had overlooked his depth as a thinker. If, as Mr. Liu believes, a society's morality is its backbone, the book raises difficult questions about China's future as a superpower. He wonders, for example, what will happen as the Internet ultimately forces China's authoritarian ruling class to confront the ugly truth about its rule. Yet even as he walks the reader through China's dark side, Mr. Liu's optimism shines through--and it's hard not to come away believing, as he does, that history is on his side. (Jimmy Lai Wall Street Journal 2011-12-19)

This is a book everyone should read, as Australian citizens and as human beings, because our national stake in what happens in China has become enormous and our human engagement with it must take the side of those who, like Liu, have the greatest integrity and the most generous vision of their country's future. Whether from a scenario planning or moral point of view, this man's ideas need to be a key part of how we see China...It's a brilliant collection and belongs in the great tradition going back to The Apology of Socrates and The Consolation of Philosophy. (Paul Monk Sydney Morning Herald 2011-12-23)

No Enemies, No Hatred [is] a collection that shows why the Communist Party fears this 56-year-old intellectual-turned-activist and his ideas. In essays on China's rise, Tibet, the impact of materialism and nationalism on morality and sex, the 2008 Olympics, and much more, Liu advances the antithesis to the Party line, writing "free from fear," as co-editor Perry Link puts it in his valuable introduction...Liu's writing is most personal when writing about Tiananmen, but all of the essays display a distinctly humane spirit. He takes evident pride in the changes that ordinary Chinese have brought about despite the Communist Party's tight grip on power...Liu has a keen eye for the cynicism and hypocrisy that warps Chinese society, fed by propaganda extolling wealth, power and national pride. (Ellen Bork Wall Street Journal 2011-12-30)

In No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, the well-translated collection edited by Perry Link, Tienchi Martin-Liao and Liu Xia--Liu's wife--Liu demonstrates a considerable amount of anger while retaining his Gandhian nonviolent spirit. Taken together, his essays offer the best analysis I have read of what's wrong in the People's Republic of China. (Jonathan Mirsky New York Times Book Review 2012-01-01)

Bookshops are now submerged by a tidal wave of new publications attempting to provide information about China, and yet there is (it seems to me) one new book whose reading should be of urgent and essential importance, both for the specialist and for the general reader alike--the new collection of essays by Liu Xiaobo, judiciously selected, translated, and presented by very competent scholars, whose work greatly benefited from their personal acquaintance with the author. (Simon Leys New York Review of Books 2012-02-09)

No Enemies, No Hatred is the first English-language collection of Liu's poems and essays, including works that the Chinese government cited when convicting him in 2009. Editors' notes included in the book do an excellent job of providing foreign readers with background on some of the topics that Liu writes about...This collection begins with Liu's writings about [the Tiananmen Square] protests, including poignant poems about those who died. Elsewhere, he takes aim at both Chinese and Westerners who believe that the other's culture holds all the answers to humanity's problems...Liu's sentence ends in June 2020. It's unknown how much China's political system will have changed by then. But one thing seems certain: If the injustices that Liu has railed against are still in place, he will not be timid about speaking his mind. (Mike Revzin Christian Science Monitor 2012-01-03)

Although the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu has been unable to publish anything since his most recent detention, which began in late 2008, Link, his co-editors, and a superb group of translators have assembled an impressive sampling of Liu's courageous and insightful writings from the past two decades in this remarkable, highly readable new book. Liu's critical essays and moving prison poetry combine to form a fascinating portrait of China during a period of rapid development and political change. If there was ever any doubt that Liu deserved the Peace Prize, this book erases it...Neither China specialists nor newcomers will soon forget this powerful book. (Jerome A. Cohen Foreign Affairs 2012-01-01)

Like so many who admire Liu Xiaobo--a Chinese author and critic who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work--until I read No Enemies, No Hatred, I was so awed by his nobility as a fighter that I had overlooked his depth as a thinker. If, as Liu believes, a society's morality is its backbone, the book raises difficult questions about China's future as a superpower. He wonders, for example, what will happen as the Internet ultimately forces China's authoritarian ruling class to confront the ugly truth about its rule. Yet even as he walks the reader through China's dark side, Liu's optimism shines through--and it's hard not to come away believing, as he does, that history is on his side. (Jimmy Lai Wall Street Journal 2011-12-17)

Offers a glimpse into the coruscating mind of one of China's greatest dissident thinkers...Chinese officials regularly describe Liu as a dangerous criminal who threatens the very foundations of the state. The conclusion many readers of this powerful and fascinating collection of Liu's writings will reach is that those foundations are not as strong as the Chinese government likes to portray to the outside world...Even for those unfamiliar with Chinese politics or the country's human rights record, this book should appeal because of the moving poetry and beautifully written essays...The best chance yet for those who cannot read Chinese to hear the voice of China's conscience. (Jamil Anderlini Financial Times 2012-01-27)

A fascinating...compendium and an important read for anyone interested in the Quaker injunction to "speak truth to power." Liu is virtually a paragon of that injunction, and of the words of the Gospel according to John: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." In No Enemies, he rebukes his fellow Chinese elites who "have yet to learn how to draw spiritual meaning from our encounters with suffering, how to live in human dignity, or how to feel concern for the suffering of a...

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