October 3, 1973 |
Chengdu, Sichuan, China
|Occupation||novelist, critic, essayist|
|Period||1998 - Present|
|Notable works||Fire and Ice (1999)
China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao (2010)
|Notable awards||Civil Courage Prize (2012)|
Yu Jie (Chinese: 余杰; pinyin: Yú Jĭe), is a Chinese writer and democracy activist. The bestselling author of more than 30 books, Yu was described by the New York Review of Books in 2012 as "one of China's most prominent essayists and critics".
Yu Jie is also active in the Chinese dissident movement, and was arrested and allegedly tortured in 2010 for his friendship with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and a critical biography of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao titled China's Best Actor. Following more than a year of house arrest, Yu emigrated to the US with his family in January 2012. Later that year, he was awarded the Civil Courage Prize of the Train Foundation.
Early writing career
His first book, Fire and Ice, included extensive political and social criticism. Upon its 1999 publication, Yu became a "literary sensation". In the same year, he met and befriended democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, and became active in the Chinese dissident movement. As part of his work with Liu, he read and commented on drafts of the democracy manifesto Charter 08 and helped found the Independent PEN Center.
In 2004, Yu published the piece "Apologies to Tibet" (向西藏忏悔) on boxun.com, which expressed regret for China's rule of Tibet and praised the efforts of Palden Gyatso, a pro-independence monk. His piece was criticized by Chinese netizens and he was heckled by overseas students in Los Angeles for attacking "national unity", but he dismissed these critics as angry brainwashed youth. Yu Jie also promotes reconciliation with Japan, the US invasion of Iraq, and religious freedom in China for Christians, after converting to Christianity himself.
Yu was detained by security officials in July 2010 to discuss his upcoming book China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao, "a scathing critique" of China's prime minister that Yu intended to publish in Hong Kong. The book argued that Wen's warm, empathic public persona was simply a facade, and that he shared the same goals of other Chinese leaders. According to Yu, one official stated that his book was "harming state security and the national interest", and if it were published, Yu would probably be imprisoned "for many years". Yu nonetheless proceeded with publication of the book in August.
On October 8, 2010, Yu's good friend Liu Xiaobo was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. On October 13, Yu was placed under house arrest, allegedly for his plans to write a biography of Liu as well as for having proceeded with the publication of China's Best Actor. He later wrote that during this period, "I was tortured by the country’s secret police and nearly lost my life". According to Yu, he was stripped naked, burned with cigarettes, and beaten until he was hospitalized.
His house arrest, and a concomitant travel ban, lasted until January 2012, at which point he and his family emigrated to the US. Following his emigration, he submitted a nine-page report detailing his alleged torture to the US State Department and the United Nations Human Rights Council. He stated that he was continuing to write Liu's biography, and was also at work on a new biography of Chinese president Hu Jintao titled "Hu Jintao: Cold-Blooded Tyrant".
Awards and honors
In 2012, Yu was named the winner of the 2012 Civil Courage Prize of the US-based Train Foundation. The prize recognizes "steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk — rather than military valor." The prize comes with a $50,000 honorarium. He was the first Chinese person to win the award, and he stated that he hoped the prize would encourage China's dissidents.
- Fire and Ice (1998), Economy Daily Press, China.
- Screams within Iron House (1998), Chinese Industry & Commerce Syndicate Press.
- Fire and Ice (1999), (Hong Kong edition), Cosmos Books.
- To Say, or not to Say (1999), Culture and Art Publishing House.
- Awkward Times (1999), YueLu Publishing House.
- Civilization Pain (1999), (Self Anthology), Bai Hua Publishing House.
- Fly the Wings (2000), China Film Publishing House.
- The Road of Wandering Hero - The Mind History of the Transformation Intellectuals in our times (2009), Taiwan Linking Publishing Co.
- China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao (2010), New Century Publishing Co.
- Ian Johnson (July 14, 2012). "China's 'Fault Lines': Yu Jie on His New Biography of Liu Xiaobo". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Edward Wong (February 25, 2012). "From Virginia Suburb, a Dissident Chinese Writer Continues His Mission". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- "China threatens dissident writer Yu Jie with prison". BBC News. July 6, 2010. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Michael Wines (July 6, 2010). "China Seeks to Halt Book That Faults Its Prime Minister". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- 余杰 (June 25, 2004). "向西藏忏悔".
- Yu, Jie (2008). "Reign of Terror on the Tibetan Plateau". China Perspectives (1): 104–108.
- Edward Wong (January 18, 2012). "China: Dissident Author Flees to U.S.". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
- "Book critical of Chinese PM Wen Jiabao goes on sale". BBC News. August 16, 2010. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Yu Jie (February 13, 2012). "The myth of China as a harmless tiger". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- William Wan (January 18, 2012). "Chinese dissident details alleged torture". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Hsiao Boa-hsiang and Sofia Wu (July 17, 2012). "Chinese dissident writer wins Civil Courage Prize". FocusTaiwan. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- "Civil Courage Prize". Civil Courage Prize. 2012. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- "Fire and Ice (Chinese: 火与冰)", 2010. (Chinese)
- "To say, or Not To say (Chinese: 说，还是不说", 2010. (Chinese)
- "Awkard Times (Chinese: 尴尬时代)", 2010. (Chinese)
- "Civilization Pain (Chinese: 文明的创痛)", 2010. (Chinese)
- "异议作家余杰：按原计划出版新书(China dissident writer Yu Jie: according to the original plan to publish his new book)" (in Chinese). Voice of America. July 6, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.