Charter 08 is the most important proposal for a liberal Chinese constitution. This excellent book, based on Hong Kong University Law Faculty conferences, treats the charter and its co-author, Nobelist Liu Xiaobo, in diverse ways that complement each other neatly.

Four initial chapters (by Jean-Philippe Béja, Joshua Rosenzweig, Liu's legal defense team, and Cui Weiping) profile the laws and trial by which Liu was imprisoned for “subversion.” Four more (by Pitman Potter and Sophia Woodman, Feng Chongyi, Karen Lee, and Michaela Kotyzova) ask about the charter as a factor in China's potential democratization. The final five (by Fu Hualing, Michael Dowdle, Eva Pils, Willy Lam, and Teng Biao) explore the liberal movement's links to current politics.

Liu Xiaobo has two different aims: “Living in truth” is a personal commitment to reject the lies and repressions that are endemic in an authoritarian state. His second commitment is more social, less personal;...

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