Blog   |   China

How to show support for Liu China

Southern Metropolis Daily's front page.

Although China continues to censor references to imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo's Nobel peace prize in the news and online, some have been finding creative ways to express support for him. An outspoken newspaper published a front-page picture featuring empty chairs on Sunday, in what appears to be a covert reference to the seat left vacant for Liu during Friday's ceremony in Oslo. 

China Digital Times reports:

"The front cover of the December 12th Southern Metropolis Daily featured a headline, '2010 Asian Para Games Are Ready to Start Tonight in Guangzhou,' but the background of the photo shows three empty chairs and five cranes.  In Chinese, 'he'(crane) is a homonym for 'congratulations' and the first character of 'peace.'

Meanwhile, according to Danwei, microblog users have been describing other famous Lius they admire in terms that evoke Liu Xiaobo himself:

From @wentommy (文涛):
The person I most admire has the surname Liu. Despite a prison term, this wonderful individual has won all kinds of international awards, and is an idol to many people. Her name is Liu Xiaoqing (刘晓庆).

Unfortunately, until information officials relax their controls, references like these will resonate only for people knowledgeable enough to circumvent Internet censorship in the first place.

More on

Like this article? Support our work


In the history of feudal China and even during the time of the Great Cultural Revolution in 1960s and 1970s, something people spoke or wrote could be interpreted as something completely irrelevant, which frequently led to vicious convictions against innocent people. If we disagree with that part of history, can we make similar interpretation of this front page picture above just believing it's done with good wishes?