Artists, activists and politicians have paid tribute to China’s late Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a year after his death from liver cancer in Chinese custody.

The Chinese poet was jailed for 11 years for inciting “subversion of state power” after he penned Charter ’08 – a manifesto urging democratic reform. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but became the first laureate to die in custody since 1938. His widow Liu Xia was kept under de facto house arrest for years, before being allowed to board a plane to Germany on Tuesday.

Photo: Kwok Ka Ki.

Hong Kong activists on Friday marched to the China Liaison Office in Sai Wan, Beijing’s official office in the city, to mourn Liu Xiaobo.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said Hong Kong people should try their best to support mainland activists and let the world understand “the darkness of the Chinese Communist Party regime.”

Kwok Ka Ki. Photo: Kwok Ka Ki.

On Friday evening, they will host a vigil at Tamar Park in Admiralty to mourn Liu. A recent recording by Liu Xia will be played.

Photo: Civic Party.

The Progressive Lawyers Group said in a statement: “We thank Mr. Liu for the legacy he has left us. His conscience remains and will continue to inspire us in the pursuit of civil liberties and democracy.”

Empty chair

In the French capital, Chinese artist Wang Keping set up a steel empty chair outside the Centre Pompidou to pay tribute to Liu Xiaobo.

Liu was in jail and unable to receive his Nobel Prize, so the Norwegian Nobel Committee used an empty chair at the ceremony to represent him.

US concern

US Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), said they cannot allow the Chinese government to erase Liu Xiaobo’s life and legacy.

“At a time when the Chinese government is using all its power to create a world safe for authoritarianism, the international community must find its voice and acknowledge the chasm that exists between the values of China’s current leaders and those of all freedom loving nations and peoples,” Smith said.

“In Liu Xiaobo’s honor we must unite to condemn Beijing’s efforts to silence those who carry the torch of freedom in China.”

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. Photo: Handout.

Rubio and Smith welcomed the release of Liu Xia earlier this week, after she was allowed leave China for Europe. They said they hoped she would be able to recover physically and emotionally during the months ahead.

They said Chinese activist Qin Yongmin’s 13-year jail sentence on the charge of “subversion of state power,” handed down a day after Liu Xia was released, was “a fresh reminder that the Chinese government and Communist Party are merciless in crushing political dissent.”

They noted with concern the fate of Liu Xia’s brother, Liu Hui, who remains in China and Zhao Suli, Qin’s wife, who remains under house arrest.

Louvre tribute

Activists in Paris held a performance at the Louvre Museum by holding up flags showing Liu Xia as the Mona Lisa in front of the famous painting.

Photo: Badiucao.

Chinese cartoonist Badiucao told HKFP that the performance was to “celebrate Liu Xia’s freedom and pay tribute to Liu Xiaobo.”

He said activists stood peacefully and silently, without any chanting, for a minute and a half. But security guards tried to stop the performance by pushing the activists, grabbing the flags and warning visitors not to film.

He added that another performance will be conducted on Friday at the Orsay Museum featuring Liu Xiaobo as Van Gogh’s self-portrait.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.