Jean-Philippe Béja is Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research and the Center for International Studies and Research at Sciences-Po, Paris. He has worked for decades on relations between society and the Party in China, and has written extensively on intellectuals and on the pro-democracy movement in the People’s Republic of China. He also works on Hong Kong politics. He edited The Impact of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre (Routledge, 2011), Liu Xiaobo, La philosophie du porc et autres essais (Gallimard, 2011), and Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China (Hong Kong University Press, 2012, co-edited with Fu Hualing and Eva Pils).
When he learned that Liu Xiaobo had won the Nobel Peace Prize, Vaclav Havel—who had not been acknowledged by the Nobel Academy—was extremely happy. Although his doctor had strictly forbidden him to drink alcohol, he opened a bottle he kept hidden for the great occasions, and drank to his success. When asked to write a foreword for the collection of Liu’s works that I edited, he did it enthusiastically. In 2011, the Czech dissident who had spent many years in prison before being rewarded with the presidency of the Czechoslovak Republic, died in Prague, aged 75.