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Empty chair

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kōng yǐzi 空椅子

Controversial cover of the Southern Metropolis Daily.
Artist: Zhang Facai

Allusion to Liu Xiaobo, who was prevented from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

On Christmas Day, 2009, the writer and dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to an 11-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion of state power." He had been detained one year earlier after co-authoring the democracy manifesto Charter 08. Twelve months of international pressure to release Liu had proven fruitless, but it did not stop with the verdict. In October 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, the laureate was represented by his empty seat. Shortly thereafter, the term "empty chair" became a sensitive word in Chinese cyberspace.

Some bloggers who used the term "empty chair" in their posts had their accounts blocked, while others who participated in a campaign to post images of empty chairs saw their posts censored. Some accounts were deleted simply for posting the image.

Liu Xiaobo died under custody on July 13, 2017.

See also go with the flow and Mayor Lymph.

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