No Enemies, No Hatred
Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's first English-language collection of poems and essays offers a fearless critique of the China that has imprisoned him.
Visitors who expect China to look like a police state are surprised to see luxury hotels, well-dressed people, trendy restaurants, chaotic traffic – even goofy game shows on TV.Skip to next paragraph
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But, as the dissident writer’s current 11-year sentence for “incitement of subversion” illustrates, aspects of a police state still exist.
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.
The book's title comes from a statement Liu prepared for his trial: “I have no enemies, and no hatred.”
No enemies, perhaps, but the 56-year-old Liu certainly has many targets for his criticism – and not just the Communist Party. Liu accuses some big-name protesters involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement of being undemocratic in their leadership and of capitalizing on the tragedy.
This collection begins with Liu’s writings about those 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.
He is especially harsh toward fellow Chinese writers – those who survived the Communist system by denouncing others or self-censoring their own words.
Critics may find that Liu goes too far in blaming Mao’s zealous ideology for some of today’s problems – including the explicit sexual content that appears on blogs in China. But Liu writes that the “class struggle” mentality of that time led to a spiritual vacuum.
Liu blames the Communist system for major problems facing China today. For example, he says that people are not upset at the gap between rich and poor, but that corrupt officials and their friends have most of the opportunities.
Even China’s state-run media report that thousands of riots occur each year when corrupt officials confiscate land to enrich themselves with crony capitalism deals. This will continue, Liu writes, until citizens are allowed to own land, and Communist Party officials are not allowed to overrule courts.