Yesterday Deutsche Welle announced the winners of the Best of Blogs Award 2008. Winner in the chinese language section is the Beijing-based lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原). Liu, who blogs about all kinds of legal matters, has recently received some international press coverage when representing the mother of Yang Jia, the man who had killed six police officers in Shanghai on July 1st and had subsequently become some kind of popular hero with the chinese public, especially after some irregularities during his trial. Yang Jia has been executed on November 26.
Another Liu-related story is his lawsuit against the big webportal provider Sohu.com because Sohu had censored his blogposts. Like many chinese bloggers, Liu works with several blog providers. He uses a dozen platforms and distributes his content on as many as six blogs per day. Every provider has deleted or edited some his postings, but often content that is censored on one blog appears without a problem on another. Rebecca McKinnon has a detailed posting on Liu and his blogging experience.
In an ironic twist of the story, Liu has recently given legal advice to blogger and citizen journalist Zhou Shuguang a.k.a. Zola, after Zola had been denied to leave China for Germany following his invitation as a jury member of the Best of Blogs Award. As far as I know, Zola gave up on joining the Jury meeting and went back to his hometown after several failed attempts to get the necessary documents. It was planned to have him participate online instead, but I haven’t heard yet whether this was successful. (More on Zola later.)
Zola is the latest in a series of renowned chinese bloggers serving as BOB jury members, starting in 2004 with notorious sex blogger Muzi Mei (which led to the bizarre decision of giving the award to a blog about dogs in that year), including Michael Anti and CNBloggerCon organizer Isaac Mao.
This years events might have additionally been strained by Deutsche Welle Chinese Service’s suspending their assistant department head Zhang Danhong in August 2008 for allegedly taking a too friendly stance toward the chinese government, following rising pressure from civic groups and other media.
It will not help that the special BOB award of Reporters Without Frontiers 2008 goes to another chinese blog. Winner is Zeng Jinyan, wife of the imprisoned activist Hu Jia, who blogs about her difficult life under house arrest and constant observation.