Liu Xiaobo has died in a Chinese hospital. He was one of the most famous dissidents, rejecting the autocracy of the Chinese ”Communist” Party from a liberal democratic perspective. Liu was jailed since 2009, the state declared him ”guilty” of trying to overthrow the government by his writhing. In fact Liu has only called for basic human rights and a China governed by a democracy, instead of a single party state. Although revolutionary socialists disagree with Liu Xiaobo on his support for American imperialism and George W. Bush, we respect him as a fighter for human rights and a China free from this corrupt ”communist” party!
Since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the Chinese ”Communist” Party has moved further to the right-wing. Not only embracing (state)capitalism, but also a very aggressive form of Chinese nationalism. This nationalism is deeply rejected by revolutionary socialists, but also by liberal democrats like Liu Xiaobo. The revolutionary left understands that the Beijing regime needs radical nationalism to hide its betrayal of Marxist principals. Not only has the People’s Republic of China more millionaires then the USA, it has also permitted the new class of super rich to join the Chinese ”Communist” Party. So we have a state party that claims to be loyal to Marxist and Leninist ideas, yet at the same time allows ”patriotic” capitalist exploiters to join them as members. Lenin would call this the ultimate betrayal. Even the Mensheviks did not allow the ruling class from joining their party!
Liu Xiaobo was not a critic of capitalism. He supported the free market as a liberal. Why he choose to support the administration of George W. Bush is unclear. Maybe he remained blinded by the American propaganda about this lie that the USA is the bastion of liberty and freedom in world. Although a liberal democrat, Liu Xiaobo supported the conservative regime of Bush and its criminal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. This shows that Liu was a big lover of westernization. His love for western imperialism may have originate from the natural inability of liberals and conservatives to see beyond their own rhetoric. Americans have this drilled into them. Both those who are liberals and conservatives still have this misguided idea that the USA and the ”Free World” are the beacon of democracy. It is a arrogance that Liu shared in his rejected of the CCP regime!
Revolutionary socialists do support Liu when he stood for workers rights and basic human rights in general. This is what made this man good. He may have had principals that can be rejected and criticized, but unlike Chinese conservatives and even some liberals he defied the ruling party. While many world liberals work with the state-capitalist regime and praise it when Beijing carries out more market based politics, Liu Xiaobo remained a critic. Conservatives in China are not at all interested in human rights. They praise the might of the state and its willingness to become a imperialist superpower. Most of not all members of the Chinese ”Communist” Party can be called conservatives. Remove the red banners, the hammer & sickle and you would see a party that is very close to the American: Republican Party or British: Conservative Party. Especially on the fact that ethnic nationalism is now the dominate ideology of the CCP!
In the 1990’s it was possible for Liu Xiaobo to go into exile. He could have moved to Taiwan, which was undergoing a rapid transformation. But Liu choose to return to the mainland and kept on writing. This was not accepted by the Beijing regime who arrested him again. He was sentenced to three years of forced re-education through labour. In 1996, while he was still imprisoned in the labour camp, Liu married Liu Xia. Because she was the only person from the outside allowed to visit him in prison, she was called his most important link to the outside world. After his release in 1999, Liu could have stopped writing. Agian he choose not to and this angered the regime. For supporting the Charter 08 manifesto of 350 Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists, he was arrested again in 2009 and sentenced to spend 11 years in prison!
At his trial Liu Xiaobo said:
China’s political reforms should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result. I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy. So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion.
Still Liu was found guilty of trying to ”overthrow the state” and got 11 years in prison. The world reacted very sharply but none of the major capitalist powers dared to do anything against the might of capitalist China. Despite criticism and calls for his release, nothing was done as the western world did not want to harm its lucrative business deals with Beijing. In 2010, China was already a world economic power. Most if not all plastic and electronic products are assembled in factories located in the PRC.
For his bravery in rejecting the dictatorship, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Noble Peace Price. Chinese media were ordered not to report this. The CCP regime demanded that all information about Liu was to be censored. However they could not keep the information away from the public. So the Chinese ”Communist” Party started a dirty smear campaign. They claimed that the party made unremitting efforts to promote and safeguard human rights, while Liu was harming the nation with his ”bold and untrue” statements. The international allies of China agreed with the vision of Beijing. Venezuela, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have sided with the PRC against the criticism of the western world!
Revolutionary socialists agree with one criticism of Liu made by the Chinese government. The western world has indeed sensationalized the story of Liu Xiaobo. He was a liberal democrat, a firm supporter of western imperialism and capitalism. This is why he was the perfect person for western media outlets in attacking China. Revolutionary socialists know that since 2010, the Chinese state is also arresting Marxists and trade unionists. But these people are never seen on western television. Especially when we talk about Marxists getting arrested by a government still called ”communist” by media outlets in America and Europe!
Zhang Shujie is another dissent who fled the PRC in 2012. Unlike Liu Xiaobo, Zhang is a Marxist and very critical of capitalism. His story is even more dramatic then that of Liu. He was arrested by the ”People’s Police” because they believed he was linked to the Committee for a Workers International (CWI). After 30 hours of interrogation Zhang agreed on becoming a spy. He was told to infiltrate the socialist group: Socialist Action in Hong-Kong. Should he refuse the police said they would jail him for years like Liu Xiaobo. Zhang Shujie however had no intentions of betraying his socialist principals to a corrupt capitalist state. After he arrived in Hong-Kong he told Socialist Action what Beijing had demanded of him. With the help from Irish socialist: Joe Higgins, Zhang was smuggled out of China and ended up in Sweden. There he got political asylum and was able to tell his story. Although Zhang Shujie was allowed to speak in front of the Swedish parliament, the media of the western world had little interests in his story!
In May 2017 while living in jail, Liu was diagnosed with cancer. At the end of his life the regime he fought against granted him medical parole. They send him to the Shenyang’s First Hospital of China Medical University. There he died on 13 July 2017 at the age of 61. On the early morning of 15 July, Liu’s body was cremated in accordance with the will of his family members and local customs. The first female president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) said in a statement: ”Tonight, together with everyone that cares about human rights in China, we mourn the tragic passing of Liu Xiaobo. I want to pay my highest respects to this tireless advocate for human rights. I also wish to express my deepest condolences to his family, particularly Ms. Liu Xia who is currently still under house arrest. In 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the ceremony, the attention of the whole world was drawn on the empty chair. Sadly, he will never have a chance to claim his seat”