Xu was born in Linhai of Taizhou, Zhejiang Province on May 3 of 1920. Xu graduated from the Department of Physics of Zhejiang University in 1942. Xu was a student of Shu Xingbei (aka Hsin Pei Soh, 束星北) and Wang Ganchang (王淦昌).
Xu was an editor of Chinese Science Bulletin (科学通报), a popular science magazine in China. Xu was treated unfairly during Mao's Anti-Rightist Movement which started in 1957, and he was sent back to his hometown to "Laogai". After Deng's political reform, Xu reobtained his normal citizenship, and went back to work in Beijing.
Xu's main interests were in the history of science, the philosophy of science (especially of physics), and the relations between science and human society. Xu's The Collected Works of Albert Einstein (《爱因斯坦文集》) currently is the most comprehensive Chinese translational version of Albert Einstein's work.
- "Mort de Xu Liangying, 92 ans, savant chinois et dissident toute sa vie | Une Vigie Rue89" (in French). Rue89.com. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- China.com.cn Book Reviews: 爱因斯坦文集：一部对中国人影响超常的科学家著作
- APS: Andrei Sakharov Prize
- Baidu.com Encyclopedia (in Chinese): Biography of Xu Liangying
- 2008 Andrei Sakharov Prize Recipient: Liangying Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences)
- The New York Times: Einstein’s Man in Beijing: A Rebel With a Cause
- APS: APS Honors Chinese Scientist and Human Rights Activist
- China Digital Times: Einstein’s Man in Beijing: A Rebel With a Cause - Dennis Overbye