Friday, March 14, 2008

Xu Liangying Awarded 2008 APS Sakharov Prize

Xu Liangying (许良英) is an outspoken scientist in China. He is best known in China for translating and publishing the entire set of Einstein's Works. He was profiled in the New York Times two years ago as "Einstein's Man in Beijing: A Rebel With a Cause".

This month, he was awarded the 2008 Andrei Sakharov Prize by the American Physical Society "For a lifetime’s advocacy of truth, democracy and human rights -- despite surveillance and house arrest, harassment and threats, even banishment -- through his writings, and publicly speaking his mind."

Xu Liangying first got himself in political trouble in 1957, when he was declared an "extreme rightist" for his outspokenness. It was not until late 1970s when he managed to publish his translations of Einstein's works and his own research of Einstein's philosophy.

In late 1986, Xu Liangying had teamed up with Professor Fang Lizhi (方励之) and Liu Binyan (刘宾雁) to organize a conference revisiting that "anti-rightists" campaign on its thirtieth anniversary. Deng Xiaoping did not appreciate that idea, since Deng himself had spearheaded the campaign. After the wide-spread student movements in South China that year, Deng decided to purge Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan, and Wang Ruowang (王若望). It was widely believed that Deng had mistaken Wang for Xu Liangying.

Xu Liangying was not deterred. In 1988, he was an adviser and guest speaker in Liu Gang's "Democratic Salon" in Beida. In early 1989, when Fang Lizhi published the open letter to Deng Xiaoping appealing for the release of Wei Jingshen, it was Xu Liangying who first responded with a letter of his own, co-signed by more than forty prominent intellectuals, to support Fang.

According to the New York Times profile, Xu Liangying suffered a heart attack during the heated period of the 1989 student movement and therefore could not join any of the demonstrations.

No comments: