Tag Archives: Liu Xiaobo

The Utterly Indefensible

We engage in a lot of debate on this blog, and anyone who reads it knows that I personally have some pretty strong opinions. Even so, most of the issues that we debate do have shades of gray, and there are reasons — sometimes logical ones — for many of the things the Chinese government does.

But not everything. We rarely talk about the things the government does that are utterly indefensible, completely cruel, and entirely black-and-white full-on evil.

So we debate about Liu Xiaobo, his “crimes” — were they crimes? — and his NED connections — do they matter — but we rarely talk about his wife, Liu Xia. For those who aren’t aware, Liu Xia has been under house arrest since the day after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Xiaobo last fall. She has been denied access to friends, family ((for the most part; supposedly she has had a few family visits, although it’s difficult to be sure since she herself is incommunicado)), phones and the internet. She has managed to get online once, though (from The Guardian):

Her only known contact with the outside world came in February, when she managed to get online briefly and told a friend that she was miserable, that no one could help her, and that “my whole family are hostages”.

Of course, many Chinese dissidents experience similar treatment, but here’s the thing: Liu Xia is not a dissident. Her only crime is being Liu Xiaobo’s wife. She’s been under house arrest for nearly a year now, and yet she has never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. She is by all definitions — including that of the Chinese legal system — entirely innocent, and yet her life has been taken away from her because of who she chose to marry.

Another example: Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist and lawyer who remains under house arrest in Linyi. Given that Chen has completed his jail sentence and should legally be a free man, his own detention is indefensible, but Linyi authorities are also holding his entire family under house arrest. This includes his daughter Kesi, who can no longer attend school because she’s not allowed to leave the house. Netizens who have attempted to visit Chen’s family have been harassed, beaten, detained, and threatened. (For frequent updates on these efforts, follow @pearlher, @wlyeung, @bendilaowai etc. on Twitter).

For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on Chen’s daughter, Chen Kesi. She’s currently being detained by authorities because of the crimes of her father ((which he has already served time for; according to Chinese law he should be a free man)). More concerning is that she can’t attend school, an injustice that threatens to influence the course of her entire life. Of course, we all know how dangerous students can be, but Chen Kesi isn’t exactly a rebellious college student. No, in fact, she’s barely in primary school. That’s right, the Chinese government is detaining a six-year-old girl.

Detention really isn’t the right word here, though. Perhaps being held hostage is more apropos. Liu Xia and Chen Kesi aren’t being held for any crimes they committed, they’re being held to scare other people into silence. They’re being held hostage, and if one day they’re freed, others will most certainly be held in their place. The faces may someday change, but the song remains the same.

Perhaps we don’t debate these things as much because there is simply nothing to debate. By any reasonable standard, the detention of innocent people is unconscionable and evil. The concept of guilt by association has a long history in China, of course, especially guilt via bloodlines, but this is not the dark ages. Nor are these isolated local incidents; rest assured the central government is fully aware of these detentions, like as not at the highest possible levels.

The fact is, the authorities detain people like Liu Xia or six-year-old Chen Kesi for two reasons:

  1. As a threat to other dissidents. Harassing, threatening, and detaining a dissident’s loved ones sends a pretty strong message: ‘If you follow this path, we will fuck with the people you love. We do not care if they’re innocent or not. We do not care if they’re young or old. Fuck with us and we will fuck you you, and we will not be gentle.’ As reprehensible a strategy as that is, it is quite effective — in fact, I have seen it work firsthand. People may be willing to give up their own lives in the pursuit of justice (or whatever), but how many are willing to give up the lives of their wives? Their parents? Their daughters? Very few, and who can blame them?
  2. Because they can. As effective as it may be in deterring dissent, detaining an innocent child is a strategy that would not play well in public. Luckily, it need not be public in a country where the media — even social media — can be controlled. Regardless of their opinions about Chen himself, can you imagine the reactions on Weibo and elsewhere if it were widely reported that the government was detaining his daughter and preventing her from attending school? It would be a PR nightmare — and anyone who was watching the news this summer knows that the Chinese government is pretty terrible at PR in the face of public dissent. But none of that matters. The news can be blacked out in the mainland, and foreign reporters who discuss it can be painted as anti-China forces who are nitpicking small issues while failing to note how fast China has developed. The few Chinese who know about the issue are welcome to have their discussions on Twitter, where no one else can see. There’s really no risk for the government; why not detain Chen Kesi if it can help keep him and other dissidents in line?

The obvious answer to that would obviously be “because you are a human being with a functional conscience,” but I don’t believe there’s a real human conscience anywhere near either of these cases.

I wanted to write about this not so much because it’s newsworthy ((Although as I type this, word is spreading on Twitter that a netizen group has reached Chen’s village and is being attacked by village thugs, or possibly plainclothes police))as because I rarely do; we rarely do. Perhaps it’s because there’s not much to debate, but personally I think it’s because it’s just too depressing to think that there’s a six-year-old girl being denied an education because some old men are scared of a blind lawyer and a few other critics of the system.

Dumb Arguments About Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize has given rise to a lot of discussion. The Global Times, for one, has been running vicious op-eds slamming Liu and the Nobel Peace Prize daily since the award was announced. Some of the discussion happening outside official media, in contrast, has been interesting and productive, but there are two specific arguments against Liu Xiaobo that I’d like to address here.

Dumb Argument #1

The first appears as oft-cited evidence that Liu Xiaobo is a traitor to China. Commenters generally post this quotation from an interview Liu Xiaobo gave:

“(It would take) 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of colonialism, Hong Kong has changed to what we see today. With China being so big, of course it would take 300 years of colonialism for it to be able to transform into how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough.”

Indeed, the quote is pretty shocking. But what these commenters generally fail to mention is that (1) the quotation is from 1988 and that (2) Liu has since suggested that at the time (he was giving an interview to a Hong Kong publication) he was just talking and hadn’t fully thought his response though.

One could argue all day about whether Liu actually meant this, whether he still believes it, and whether that makes him a traitor, but the fact is that he hasn’t said anything like that since 1988, which is why his detractors go back so far to dig something up against him. As James Fallows puts it:

“It’s in no way representative of Liu’s general position, which is that of a Chinese nationalist working to bring universal values to his own country.”

Liu is a professional writer with a large body of work; if he were truly a traitor who wanted China to be subjugated to foreign powers, presumably it would be easy to find evidence of that in his writing, but I have yet to see a single argument against Liu online or in the Chinese media that quoted even a single line from anything he has written.

Dumb Argument #2

The second argument suggests that Liu deserved his eleven year sentence and/or is a traitor to China for accepting money from foreign organizations, with a side helping of “Americans are hypocrites because that’s illegal in America, too.” Here I am quoting commenter Charles Liu on this post:

Liu Xiaobo has received hundreds of thousands of US government funding via the NED in the past five years to conduct domestic political activity in China (including advocating abolition of China’s constitution.) Check NED’s China grants for Independent Chinese Pen Center and Minzhu Zhongguo magazine, which Liu heads.

If Liu were American he would be in violation of FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act). Ron Paul had once commented “What the NED does in foreign countries… would be rightly illegal in the United States”.

As you might expect, this is a clever mix of truth, lies, and intentionally misleading suggestions. In actuality, if Liu were in the US, he would be perfectly fine, assuming he did register and keep records of who gave him money, as is required by the FARA. Moreover, there’s no reason to think Liu would have been sentenced to a day of jail time even if he did refuse to register in the US. In fact, not a single person has been convicted in a criminal case under FARA since 1966.

Moreover, the whole thing is a false analogy, as Liu was convicted of “attempting to incite subversion of state power” based on the contents of Charter 08, not because he had accepted money from foreign governments and thus violated some law similar to FARA. Quoting from the official verdict read at the end of Liu’s trial, he was convicted because he “published inciting articles”, and because he “drafted and concocted Charter 08″ and then posted it on overseas websites.

Specifically, he was convicted of violating article 105 section two of the PRC criminal code, which reads:

“Whoever incites others by spreading rumors or slanders or any other means to subvert the State power or overthrow the socialist system shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; and the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years. “

In fact, accepting money from foreign organizations can, in some cases, be illegal in China, as evidenced by Articles 106 and 107 of the Criminal Code:

Article 106: Whoever commits the crime as prescribed in Article 103, 104 or 105 of this Chapter in collusion with any organ, organization or individual outside the territory of China shall be given a heavier punishment according to the provisions stipulated in these Articles respectively.

Article 107: Where an organ, organization or individual inside or outside of the territory of China provides funds to any organization or individual within the territory of China to commit the crime as prescribed in Article 102, 103, 104 or 105, the person who is directly responsible for the crime shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; if the circumstances are serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years.

But neither of these laws were even mentioned in Liu’s verdict. From the verdict: “The procuratorate found that Liu Xiaobo’s actions have violated the stipulations of Article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China…” No other article is mentioned.

So, in short, Liu’s crime and sentencing in China are in no way comparable to FARA and, in the words of those who convicted and sentenced him, he was not imprisoned for accepting money from foreign organizations like NED.

“Universal Values” and “Western Imperialism”

“Trying to impose western so-called ‘universal’ values on China” is a charge that has been leveled at Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian Nobel committee, and a whole lot of other people. It is of only tangential relevance here, but we’ll quickly address it anyway. Since detractors rarely, if ever, cite specifics from Liu’s body of work, it’s difficult to know which “Western values” he is supposedly trying to force on China.

In terms of Charter 08, though, as a recent joke being passed around the Chinese internet points out, most if not all of the ideas in the charter are evident, and often more strongly worded, in speeches and writings of revered CCP leaders like Zhou Enlai:

Hu Jintao: Has Liu Xiaobo confessed yet?

Prosecutors: He’s confessed everything and we’ve corroborated his statements.

Hu Jintao: So [in Charter ‘08] where does he get the phrase “federated republic?”

Prosecutors: This comes from the report of the second congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The original wording was, “establish a free federated republic.” Only, the word “free” is not in the Charter.

Hu Jintao: Then… then, what about the military being made answerable to the national government and not to a political party?

Prosecutors: We’ve looked into it! This comes from The Selected Works of Zhou Enlai. The original wording was, “We must make the military answerable to the national government.” Only, the word “must” is not in the Charter.

Hu Jintao: Then… then … then, where does all that stuff praising Western style democracy come from?

Prosecutors: The Xinhua Daily ran an editorial that read, “America represents a democratic society.” Only, the Charter doesn’t say “America represents.”

Hu Jintao: Then… then… then, what about an end to one party rule?

Prosecutors: This is a slogan from great grandfather Mao when he opposed the Guomindang [the Nationalists]! The original wording of the slogan was, “Topple the one party dictatorship!” [When the Nationalists were vying for power with the Communists, Mao strongly advocated a multi-party government. Failure to create a multi-party state led to civil war.]

Hu Jintao: Then… then… then… then, what about freedom of association, freedom of speech, and a free press?

Prosecutors: These are all part of the Constitution!

Moreover, it’s worth noting that “human rights” is not in and of itself a Western concept. In fact, one of the principal drafters of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was P.C. Chang, a Chinese citizen who was a dedicated Confucian, a lover of traditional poetry, and a member of the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II. Chinese people in Hong Kong and Taiwan, among other places, have adopted so-called “Western” values like freedom of the press and democracy, yet they are still recognized as Chinese.

Yes, of course, some of these ideas have their origins in the West, but there’s plenty of precedent for a belief in fundamental freedoms and human rights in China’s native traditions, too (this will be the subject of a future post at some point). In any event, the idea that Liu’s advocating things like democracy and freedom of the press is somehow fundamentally “not Chinese” is ridiculous.

Comments

There are, certainly, arguments to be made in favor of not giving the prize to Liu Xiaobo. Others may have deserved the award more (I don’t personally think so, but I don’t know a lot about many of the other candidates, either). Arguments that Liu Xiaobo is a traitor to China or that he deserved his eleven year sentence, on the other hand, seem to be few and far between.

I am, as ever, open to other interpretations, but our discussions on this in the past have gone off the rails, so the rules here are going to be a bit stricter. If you’re going to make an argument in the comments (one way or the other) you need to support it with actual evidence, and you need to do it without attacking other commenters personally. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Liu Xiaobo Wins Nobel Peace Prize: Early Reactions on Twitter

Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Sitting in a jail cell in Northern China, he has no way of knowing this, but the ceremony–which was broadcast live on the internet and wasn’t blocked in China–is over and Chinese Twitter users are in a pretty celebratory mood. Below are some translated reactions:

Fang Zhenghu:

Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo for winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize!

Michael Anti:

Today, many people’s first reaction [to the news] was to cry. RT @yimaobuba: I’m crying in an airport lounge in Sydney.

Michael Anti:

Friends in Tokyo, tonight the drinks are on me! Please call me at 08032028778, we’ll drink until I don’t care whether I’m bankrupt or not.

PKUTeaParty:

[quoting Sun Yat-sen:] Global trends are vast and powerful. Those who follow prosper, those who resist die off.

Zhi Yongxu:

Long Live Freedom!

Wang Zhongxia:

Norway is badass [牛逼], I’m crying in the car right now [on the way to visit Liu Xiaobo’s wife].

Shifeike [being retweeted by lots of people on Twitter and Sina Weibo]:

Are there brothers in Shanghai? Let’s have a banquet! This is the invitation, we’ll meet in the People’s Square.

Liu Xiaoyuan:

I bet some officials are regretting it now. Perhaps they’re thinking, if we hadn’t given Liu Xiaobo a harsh sentence, would the Nobel Peace Prize still have come to China?

Hecaitou:

Heading out, breaking my vow to abstain and having a drink! [Note: I am assuming this is in response to the news, but am not 100% sure]

digitalboy:

I…am…so…thankful…to…Chinese…twitterers…let’s go out….the meal is my treat…

CorndogCN:

Update: people are setting off firecrackers [in celebration] at Peking University!

aiduoxiang:

Seething with excitement, everywhere is seething with excitement. It’s just that a big group of idiots don’t know what’s happened. It really makes you fucking feel for them…

Xialinlawyer:

Really, I don’t dare to believe it’s true!

Ai Weiwei:

Tell your friends, family and classmates who Liu Xiaobo is and why he is loved and respected by “anti-China” forces.

Ai Weiwei:

The man without enemies has finally come across a friend, bravo! ((This is a reference to a statement Liu made in court before being sentenced to 11 years. He said that despite his treatment, he had no enemies.))

The announcement quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and Sina Weibo, although at the moment it appears to have been deleted from Sina Weibo. Most Chinese news portals have deleted their coverage of the prize this year, and text messages with the name “Liu Xiaobo” in Chinese are being blocked over China mobile phones, at least in Beijing.

Note: Keep in mind this post is not necessarily a reflection of everyone’s opinion. These tweets were chosen more or less at random. I genuinely didn’t see anyone on Twitter expressing dissatisfaction with the selection (in Chinese or English) but that may be as much of a commentary on the people I choose to follow as it is the reality of public opinion. Either way, it’s worth remembering: the average Chinese person doesn’t know that Liu Xiaobo has won, or even who he is. Will that change? Time will tell.

We’ll continue covering this as events warrant.

Peace Prizes

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

A few days ago, the New York Times ran an editorial written by three of the original drafters of Charter 77, a document that helped topple the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia (remember when that was a place?). They suggested that Liu Xiaobo, the recently-imprisoned author of China’s Charter 08, should receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite Liu’s imprisonment, his ideas cannot be shackled. Charter 08 has articulated an alternative vision of China, challenging the official line that any decisions on reforms are the exclusive province of the state. It has encouraged younger Chinese to become politically active, and boldly made the case for the rule of law and constitutional multiparty democracy. And it has served as a jumping-off point for a series of conversations and essays on how to get there.

[…]

Liu may be isolated, but he is not forgotten. Next month, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will announce the recipient of the 2010 prize. We ask the Nobel Committee to honor Liu Xiaobo’s more than two decades of unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform, and to make him the first Chinese recipient of that prestigious award. In doing so, the Nobel Committee would signal both to Liu and to the Chinese government that many inside China and around the world stand in solidarity with him, and his unwavering vision of freedom and human rights for the 1. 3 billion people of China.

I have already said this on Twitter, but I think this is a good idea. I watched The Gate of Heavenly Peace again the other day and was struck — again — by the moment on the morning June 4th when the students come across a gun, which Liu Xiaobo desperately tries to smash on the stone facade of the Monument to the People’s Heroes. It is a moment of self-preservation, to be sure, but there is more to it than that.

Liu has paid dearly for his convictions, which are not altogether unreasonable. Certainly, his continued advocacy of human rights has advanced the cause of peace. Why not give the Nobel Peace Prize to him?

Speaking of peace prizes, I have heard through the grapevine that a Chinese organization is hoping to create and award one of their own, called the “Silk Road Peace Prize”. There’s not a lot of information available about this yet, but supposedly they’re modeling it after the Nobel Prize, and its winner will be judged by a similarly international committee of diplomats, artists, and politicians.

To be honest, I’m fairly skeptical of this. Although it’s probably unfair to judge things so early in the planning stages, the fact that they’re meeting with people like the vice-premier of Montenegro might not be a good sign ((Sorry Mr. Vice-Premier, but your name doesn’t look that impressive.)). Granted, I have no way of knowing who else is involved, as the project is apparently still in the planning stages. And I suppose these prizes have to start small.

My bigger concern is that this being China, the group may have to avoid entirely ever awarding their prize to someone Chinese. Candidates that would be approved by the Chinese government and the international community are scarce, so the group would be forced to choose between sacrificing international legitimacy and picking someone government-approved (which would be seen as a propaganda move even if the selection was actually fair), or sacrificing government approval and possibly endangering itself by picking someone who works for peace outside the official system.

Of course, they can easily pick people from other countries; still, it seems a shame that a Chinese organization couldn’t occasionally award their prize to someone Chinese, especially since the Nobel prize has never been given to anyone Chinese (unless, of course, you count a certain Lama…).

Thoughts?

A Brief Update on Liu Xiaobo

Readers may recall that Liu Xiaobo, one of the authors of Charter 08, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas day last year. You would think that following imprisonment, it would at least be easy to keep track of someone, but in China you would be wrong.

Unlike Gao Zhisheng, Mr. Liu hasn’t disappeared, although his family had been prevented from seeing him. But despite regulations that stipulated he be transferred to Liaoning, the province of his hukou registration, he continued to be held in Beijing well beyond his sentencing. This excellent post appeared from on the blog Siweilouzi on May 18:

Under China’s legal system, a defendant in a criminal trial has the right to appeal a decision only once, and the decision of the appellate court is final. Once that decision takes legal effect, we can normally expect commencement of the process of transfer from the detention center (run by the police) to a prison (managed by the local arm of the Ministry of Justice).

In Beijing, where Liu was convicted, this post-trial transfer process works a bit differently than in other parts of China, because special regulations in the capital restrict non-Beijing residents from serving their sentences in Beijing prisons. Convicted criminals whose place of household registration (hukou) is elsewhere are first held in a special “repatriation” detention center pending transfer to serve out the remainder of their sentences in their home provinces.

The verdict in Liu’s case made clear that, despite having lived legally in Beijing for many years, his household registration remained in the province of his birth, Liaoning. (The fact that his status in Beijing could be considered “temporary”—an interpretation that, though not entirely convincing, has at least some basis in Chinese law—helps explain why Liu’s initial six-month period of “residential surveillance” was not carried out in his home.) Under these circumstances, we should expect Liu to serve his sentence in a Liaoning prison.

Recently, though, Liu has apparently been transferred a Liaoning prison. Twitter user yujie89 wrote a post on May 30th (via Chang Ping):

Liu Xia has notified me that she got a letter from the prison on the 26th, saying that Xiaobo had already been moved to the Jinzhou prison [in Liaoning]. Xiaobo has no connection whatsoever with Jinzhou, they are doing things this way to intentionally torment his relatives.

Indeed, the move to Jinzhou is an inconvenient one for his close family, as he had been living in Beijing for many years. But as the Siweiluozi blog indicates, if Liu’s hukou registration is in Liaoning, moving him there does make some sense. But is Liu’s household registration really in Liaoning? In contrast with the article above, most online sources (including what appears to be a letter he wrote himself) cite his place of birth as Changchun, which is in Jilin province.

Of course, Jilin and Liaoning are neighboring provinces, but Changchun and Jinzhou are not particularly close. And if Mr. Liu was born in Jilin, why would he have been moved to a Liaoning prison at all? As always, the machinations of the system are so easily obfuscated by the wall of bureaucrats between, say, Mr. Liu’s wife and himself, that it’s very difficult to tell what’s going on.

I reject the idea that Liu should be in prison in the first place, but if he must be, shouldn’t the proper procedures be followed? Doesn’t his wife have the right to know where he is, when he is being moved, and shouldn’t she get a chance to contact him from time to time?

Liu Xiaobo, Drifting With the Tide

Westerners worldwide will wake up tomorrow with gifts under their Christmas trees. Liu Xia will wake up tomorrow — for her, December 26th — with the knowledge that Christmas brought her an empty home for the next eleven years. On December 25th, Liu Xiaobo (Liu Xia’s husband) was sentenced to eleven years in prison for “inciting to subvert state power,” or in other words, writing this.

Liu probably foresaw this outcome when he was writing the document in question — called Charter 08 — for he wrote within it, “we should end the practice of viewing words as crimes.” Liu will also be denied his political rights for an additional two years after his release in 2020. One suspects the dark irony of this is not lost on him, though it may be lost on his captors.

Liu’s conviction was a foregone conclusion — having indicted him, it would have been internationally embarrassing for him to be found innocent — but his sentence was not. While his crime can be punished with up to fifteen years in prison, he could have been sentenced more lightly. Eleven years is a slap in the face to the other co-signers of Charter 08, and a warning shot across their bow. Liu’s lawyers plan to appeal, but there isn’t a lot of optimism about Liu’s prospects for an early release.

The government has also taken steps to stop people from discussing the case online, reportedly ordering all Chinese search engines to block the search term “11 years”. Nevertheless, netizens are discussing the issue and showing their support. They are even — as is their wont in times like these — using puns to express implicit support for Liu Xiaobo:

For example, there are many posts in this forum that include or consist solely of the phrase: “随波逐刘”. This is a pun on the Chinese expression “随波逐流” which literally means “follow the waves, pursue the flow”, or figuratively: “drifting with the tide.” But flow (流 liu2) sounds like Liu Xiaobo’s surname (刘 Liu2) and the Chinese word for “waves” (波 bo1) is also part of Liu Xiaobo’s given name. So, when written as “随波逐刘”, it might be loosely translated as “Follow Xiaobo, Pursue Liu” or “Drift with Liu Xiaobo”.

One netizen writes:

In the West, today is the day of the coming of Christ, and we are pacing outside heaven’s gate, unsure of whether we should go in, whether we can go in. If there is a God, I don’t understand why you never extend your favor to the the deeply distressed people of the earth…

Where is the hope, where is the window? I can’t see it, can’t hear it.
Eleven years later, at the crossroads of fate, I choose to ‘drift with Liu Xiaobo’ [随波逐刘]

Shortly after that post was made, the forum was closed. Attempting to load it prompts this message:

Sorry, in accordance with the relevant legal regulations and policies, this forum has been temporarily closed.

Twitter, though, is unblockable, in the sense that it is already blocked but a growing community of netizens uses it anyway. Expressions of support have also been growing there, where users have added yellow ribbons to their pictures in solidarity with Liu Xiaobo, and have begun tagging tweets with #freeliuxiaobo. Other tweets on the subject can be found by searching for the judge’s first name.Facebook groups and the like also exist, and are likely to grow in membership in the coming days.

That the case is a travesty of justice is undeniable. It may not be unconstitutional, though. The Chinese Constitution states:

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Article 35

Unfortunately, it also states:

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, in exercising their freedoms and rights, may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society or of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.
Article 51

It is the duty of citizens of the People’s Republic of China to safeguard the security, honour and interests of the motherland; they must not commit acts detrimental to the security, honour and interests of the motherland.
Article 54

In any event, the results of the case are deeply discouraging. The tactical announcement of the verdict on Christmas — the time when foreigners are least likely to be paying attention — proves that the government is at least a bit shameful about it, too, or at least fearful of international meddling. There will still be meddling, of course — US officials have already denounced the verdict and called for Liu Xiaobo’s freedom — but the Chinese government has never before buckled under this kind of pressure, and is not likely to start now. And the outcry will certainly be muted by the impending holiday in the West.

For those interested in the outcrying — and know that I count myself among you — I urge a modicum of caution. Let us recall that it was not China that arrested and sentenced Liu Xiaobo, but people, and that it is not China that we oppose, but the cowardly actions of these people. Whatever systemic evils exist, they exist because people put them there, and we must not judge or condemn en masse, else we risk violating justice just as Liu Xiaobo’s captors have.

Let us also remember that beyond the political posturing, there are smaller tragedies here. This Christmas, we think of Liu Xia in her home, alone. She has barely seen her husband for a year, and will see him less, if at all, in the next eleven. China has robbed itself of a patriot, but it has also robbed a man of eleven years of freedom, and a wife of her husband. Liu Xia may not be the biggest story here, but she more than anyone — perhaps more than Liu himself — will bear the weight of this eleven year sentence.

(Many of the links in this story came from the China Digital Times, which is also probably your best source for up-to-the-minute information on the case).