Li Ao

From Academic Kids

Alternative meaning: Li Ao (722-841)

Li Ao (李敖 pinyin Lǐ o) (born April 25, 1935), is a satirist, social commentator, historian, and politician in the Republic of China on Taiwan. With an ancestry in Wei County (濰縣), Shandong, or Fuyu County (扶餘縣), Jilin, Li was born in Harbin, China to Li Dingyi (李鼎彝), a professor of Chinese, and Chang Kuichen (張桂貞). The entire Li family, except for two children, moved to Taiwan in 1949. He is considered by some to be one of the best Chinese writers of our day. His political inclinations are more controversial; he is a staunch and outspoken Pan-Blue supporter given much media exposure thanks to his popularity as a writer. This have lead others to consider him a political opportunist who enjoys stirring up controversy for the sake of publicity.

Life as a dissident writer

Li Ao was credited for his contribution to the democratic movement in Taiwan between 1960s and 1980s. In the 1960s, he was the editor-in-chief of Wenxing (文星), a magazine that promoted democracy and personal freedom. He was jailed by the Kuomintang government for more than eight years after helping a pro-Taiwan independence political prisoner, Peng Ming-min to escape to Japan in 1963. Ironically, Li Ao had a long history of being an advocate of reunification.

Throughout the 1970s, Li Ao received much international attention for his imprisonment. He was highlighted by Amnesty International as one of the three most important political prisoners in Taiwan in 1974.

After his release, Li Ao continued to publish magazines and newspapers, criticizing the government. 96 of his books were banned in Taiwan before 1991. In the 1980s he also sponsored numerous other anti-government magazines.

His novel Mountaintop Love (《上山.上山.愛》), about a mother and daughter who fall in love with the same man, though several years apart, has solidified Li's status as a serious novelist. His the other novel, Martyrs' Shrine: The Story of the Reform Movement of 1898 in China (北京法源寺), about the beginning and the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform, was nominated by his university colleagues for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000. Li also published his autobiography in 2001, revealing more than ten of his romances in the book.

Life as a politician

Li Ao strongly supports the idea of "One country, two systems" proposed by Deng Xiaoping. He believes that the unification of China is inevitable and at one point advocated immediate surrender. He thinks that if reunification came earlier, it would be more beneficial for Taiwan. This, in combination with his past as a political dissident and his humorous style, has made him a popular figure among supporters of Chinese reunification. Conversely, it has also made him an unpopular figure amongst supporters of Taiwan independence.

Li participated in the presidential election in 2000 as candidate for the New Party. Li usually takes the role as the political gadfly, and his campaign was largely symbolic. He took the election as an opportunity to "educate" the people in Taiwan. Both he and his party publicly encouraged people to vote for James Soong to the point of stating during the presidential debates that he was not planning to vote for himself and that people should vote for Soong.

Since the 2000 presidential election, Li Ao has bitterly spoken against pro-independence Nobel laureate Yuan T. Lee, who publicly supported Chen Shui-bian. He has also criticized Lee Teng-hui for corruption. In October 2004 Li ran in the December 11 legislative election as an non-party candidate in the South Taipei constituency, for which he was subsequently elected in the last winning place. He took office on February 1.

In February 2005, Li held a press conference, accusing PFP leader, James Soong of having changed his opposition towards military weapons purchase from the United States under the influence from people with the Pro-American inclination, people with CIA background and arsenal traders who receive kick-backs. Li threatened Soong that he will reveal the names of the people with CIA background, who was influencing Soong, to the general public unless Soong reverts to his previous opposition position.[1] ( PFP legislators dismissed the accusation and responded that Li Ao should reveal his evidence to support his story.[2] (

Later that year, in June, Li revealed to the Taiwanese press that he had exclusive information from the CIA concerning the 3-19 shooting incident. He alleged that the real motive of the killer was to assassinate Vice-President Annette Lu in order to garner sympathy votes for Chen Shuibian, and that the killer has been condoned by the governing party for ulterior political reasons. After flashing a series of CIA-endorsed documents to reporters, he mailed them to Annette Lu, claiming that she would need to know the full extent of truth about the killing attempt.

Li is interestingly known for generally appearing in public wearing a Fred Rogers-like cardigan sweater. He also has a habit of taking pictures of the audience at public events where the media is present since he believes that it is only fair to take pictures of the people who are taking pictures of him. He also revealed his reading room with pictures of nudity hanging on the wall in an interview.[3] (

See also: Politics of Taiwanzh:李敖


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