What does Liu Xiaobo’s death mean for China?

Jul 13, 2017

Demonstrators hold a portrait of China's

Demonstrators hold a portrait of China’s detained Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo demanding his immediate release during a protest in the lobby of Taipei’s National Palace Museum where China’s top negotiator Chen Yunlin is visiting on December 20, 2010. ; Credit: PATRICK LIN/AFP/Getty Images


Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a literary scholar and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, died of liver cancer Thursday at the age of 61.

Liu was on medical parole for his illness while serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion against the Chinese government.

His ailing health drew international attention in recent months after he was diagnosed in late May, but Chinese authorities had refused to allow him to leave the country, saying he was too unwell. Two foreign doctors who visited him this month contradicted those claims, saying he was able to travel safely out of the country — drawing more scrutiny on China’s human rights record and treatment of dissidents.

What does Liu’s death mean for China’s global stature at a time when the country is positioning itself as a major international player? What might we expect in terms of reactions from the Trump administration? And how does Liu’s death register among China’s citizens?


Clayton Dube, director of the U.S.-China Institute at USC

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