As censors sprung into action after Mr. Liu’s death, internet users found creative means to convey their opinions. One popular motif was a picture of an empty chair, echoing the way the Nobel Prize committee honored Mr. Liu at the 2010 ceremony. Another common image was a black backdrop accompanied only by the text “1955-2017,” the years of Mr. Liu’s life.
Chinese journalists, lawyers and activists denounced government efforts to erase mentions of Mr. Liu. He is now relatively unknown in China, despite his fame overseas, and the mainland Chinese news media has largely not reported his death. To evade censors who were patrolling the internet for uses of Mr. Liu’s name, some users instead referred to him as “Wang Xiaobo,” or “Teacher Liu.”
The censors were quick to react, blocking searches of several code words. A viral essay on Mr. Liu’s death titled “A Night That Can’t Be Discussed” was quickly deleted.
Credit QueenieW, via Weibo
Mr. Liu’s famous phrase — “I have no enemies and no hatred” — was widely quoted among his admirers in the hours after his death. He had planned to make the remark at his sentencing on charges of inciting subversion of state power in 2009, but the court forbade him from doing so. Since then, the quotation has become a mantra of hope for pro-democracy activists in China and a reminder of Mr. Liu’s commitment to nonviolence.
“I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies,” Mr. Liu wrote in a prepared statement in 2009.
As they grappled with his death, Mr. Liu’s admirers quoted his writings and poetry. Some remembered his days helping student protesters gathered in Tiananmen Square in 1989. They posted photographs of a dimly lit square, a portrait of Mao blurry in the background.
“You are the martyr of freedom,” wrote one user. “The executioner will never be forgiven.”