Li Ao’s speeches in full

Posted by Martyn

A downloadable video and both Chinese and English language translations are now available of Li Ao’s colourful speech at Peking University earlier this week.

If you understand Chinese, you can download the video here at QQ.

Otherwise, here is the text in Chinese.

Here’s ESWN’s English translation of the Peking University speech.

And here is ESWN’s English translation of the Tsinghua speech.

The Discussion: 30 Comments

Woah… I read ESWN’s translations of both speeches – first Peking and then Tsinghua. By the way, why do we all still persist in spelling Tsinghua with the Wade-Giles system? Has the university ever put forth a position on this issue? Is it just a hassle to change all the stationary?

I sometimes got the impression that he isn’t expressing one position, but rather is trying to instigate to get the audience thinking. I certainly think to describe him as simply lambasting the CCP is to misinterpret what he’s getting at.

From the fake Tsinghua University, I saw the real Tsinghua, but the fake Tsinghua has parts of the real one, and the real one does not have any part of the fake one.

Dude, he’s blowing my mind…

September 23, 2005 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

[Benjamin] Franklin said something that is quite moving. He said, “Where there is liberty, there is my motherland.” Let me tell you that Franklin was wrong. This sentence will be re-written by Li Ao. How would that go? “This is my country and I want it to be free.” Don’t take that as being fake. If we give it a try, it will become real. Do not think that they are lying to us. When we treat it as real, then they are no longer liars.

Who is the “we” trying? Who are the “they” that we shouldn’t think are lying? What on Earth is going on?

I know, I know, I should read the Chinese version. But it’s so hard… I am, after all, an American.

September 23, 2005 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

Now THAT is one long speech!

September 24, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

I just read the qing hua speach. It’s AWESOME!

September 24, 2005 @ 4:57 am | Comment

Bei Da speech was as good (poignant + intriguing), much better than I expected!

I decided not to listen to any politicians any more.

September 24, 2005 @ 5:08 am | Comment


“We” = the Chinese people;

“They” = Franklin and other advocates of liberties.
“They” = articles in relation to civil liberties in the constitution of the PRC. (less likely)

September 24, 2005 @ 5:50 am | Comment


September 24, 2005 @ 8:12 am | Comment

No probs ZHJ, I’m glad you asked for them as I likely wouldn’t have bothered to post the links. The downloadable video, I mean watching Li Ao deliver the Beida speech, is fantastic.

I’m sure that the Mainland has never come across anyone quite like him before.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:59 am | Comment

Don’t take Li Ao’s speech seriously. Most of people who know his background wouldn’t. He is just a fading character in Taiwan who seeks market potential of mainland China. I admit that he succeed by selling millions more of his books due to the visit. He once said he would never visit mainland again. He is a much nastier man than Bill Clinton. He descriminate women. He grabbed the money, real estate, and other valuables from his old friend, who basically made him a famous character. He indecently lost in that law suit because of the evidence supplied by his wife. However that guy was also stupid enough not suing him for money. He only stayed in prison for a while after losing the case….

He is a man, but don’t take him seriously. He is never a constructive charater no matter in politics or literature.

September 24, 2005 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

Li Ao:The Drama Continues

SCMP yesterday and today bring updates of the travels of Li Ao on the mainland. From yesterday comes word on Li Ao bowing to pressure
Mr Li said he had planned to cancel his appearance at Tsinghua, but the organiser of his trip, Phoenix TV, and “a myster

September 24, 2005 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

From talking to a few of my Chinese friends, they said that Li Ao’s daughter was quite outspoken herself when she visited the mainland a few years ago. Is this true? And if so, what exactly was she outspoken about?

September 24, 2005 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

As I just found on Tom Daai Tou Laam, this is ESWN’s take on the Tsinghua speech:

Here is full translation of the second speech. This is out so fast that that the western media haven’t got around to it yet, maybe because it will be hard to spin for the western agenda-setters.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:14 pm | Comment

Here is how the Western media are “spinning” the story.

China’s leaders may have felt they had no better friend in Taiwan than Li Ao, a defiant and outspoken politician and author who says that Taiwan should unify with Communist China.

But when China invited Mr. Li to tour the mainland this week, the Communist Party got a taste of its rival’s pungent democracy.

Taiwanese author Li Ao at a news conference in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2005.

During an address at Beijing University on Wednesday evening, broadcast live on a cable television network, Mr. Li chided China’s leaders for suppressing free speech, ridiculed the university administration’s fear of academic debate and advised students how to fight for freedom against official repression.

“All over the world leaders have machine guns and tanks,” Mr. Li told the students and professors in the packed auditorium. “So I’m telling you that in the pursuit of freedom, you have to be smart. You have to use your cunning.”

Mr. Li, 70, is a member of Taiwan’s Parliament and the host of a popular talk show on the mainland-backed Phoenix TV of Hong Kong, which helped arrange his trip to China. It is his first visit since his family fled the mainland for Taiwan when he was a high school student.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

I take Li Ao as seriously as I take ESWN. One is a self-promoter and one is a CCP shill. His speech was 95% suck-up, 5% faux criticisim.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:43 pm | Comment

i was referring to the second speech. it was melodramatic. Li Ao opened up the speech with an attack on bush at tsinghua/qinghua. then he took a copy of that speech and ripped it up. good print material, you would think.

now try go google for that second speech. no ap, no reuters, no nyt, no nothing. the second speech was pro-china and anti-american. that’s why nobody’s going near it. read the text.

September 24, 2005 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

home boy: li ao’s daughter is famous for suing people in beijing. she lives in beijing and has filed more than 100 lawsuits against neighbors, building management, businesses, etc. for example, she sued a neighbor because their dogs barked too loud; she sued the building management for letting people hang their laundry outside.

during the phoenix online chat, li ao mentioned that the daughter had a sign next to her doorbell to tell the visitors should ring only once because she gets annoyed. one day, a delivery boy came and rung more than once. she came out screaming at him. very outspoken, indeed.

she is quite apolitical, by the way.

September 24, 2005 @ 9:55 pm | Comment

Thanks for the response–I’ve heard that she was, what we say in English, a hell-raiser, but really didn’t know any specifics. My wife, a Chinese, mentioned to me this morning, she would often berate mainland Chinese publicly for their sanitary habits, or rather lack of sanitary habits too.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Actually, from what eswn said about Li Ao’s daughter, it sounds like she’s doing what more people ought to do on the Mainland. It’s RIGHT to “raise hell” about commonly accepted barbaric habits.

Earlier today when I was getting my morning coffee at McDonalds, two arrogant young guys (one in military uniform) BRAZENLY cut in front of me.
I pushed them back and said, in my most menacing tone, in English:

“You cut in front of me and I’ll break your fucking arm.” They got the idea and backed away. But that’s what it takes to knock some sense into THOSE kinds of Mainland Vulgarians.

September 25, 2005 @ 1:58 am | Comment

Ivan, you nutter! You should be more careful talking like that. Everyone in China understands the f word. If some rude people beat to a pulp how will you be able to comment on PD?! 😉

September 25, 2005 @ 2:50 am | Comment

Those two translations must have taken you a long time espn. Thanks for the efforts.

Wasn’t one difference between the Peking and the Tsinghua speeches the fact that Li Ao deliberately toned the latter down after causing a bit of controversy with the first one? The Peking was heavily censored by the official media. Either he exercised good old self censorship or someone had a quiet word.

September 25, 2005 @ 3:46 am | Comment

Not espn! eswn!! I watch far too much tv.

September 25, 2005 @ 3:47 am | Comment


Thanks for the friendly advice! But yes I do know that most Chinese people know the f-word, and more.
That’s why I used it – along with a very restrained backhand into the queue-jumper’s face.

I’m not belligerent by nature, and I hate all bullies. But that’s why I won’t put up with being shoved around.

And I won’t say here, what I look like or what my stature is. But I feel sorry for anyone who dares to tangle with me. The main reason why I’ve never gotten into a physical fight in China, is because I’m afraid I might cripple someone and it would mess up my career. You know the bigger and stronger guys are often the gentlest ones, for exactly this reason – fear of hurting the other guy too much.

Anyway, it’s about time that some of those vulgarian pushers and shovers learned some manners….
…next thing we should do: Bring Hulk Hogan to China! HE will teach them some good manners! 🙂

September 25, 2005 @ 4:24 am | Comment


I’m not as cynical as you with regard to the non-coverage of Li Ao’s Tsinghua speech. After all, anti-US, pro-CCP speeches in China are nothing unusual – hardly front page headlines.

However, his first speech, comparing free speech with porn and poking fun at the CCP will naturally generate international interest – simply because you don’t usually hear speeches like that in China everyday.

Little to do with “western agendas”.

September 25, 2005 @ 4:58 am | Comment

Martyn, I was thinking about this very topic over dinner tonight. Of course the second speech didn’t get coverage in the west – it was Li Ao’s business as usual, from what I can tell. When a man bites a dog, that’s news. Li Ao’s standard strump speech is a non-event. When he raises hell and shocks just about everyone, of course Joseph Kahn covers it.

September 25, 2005 @ 6:11 am | Comment

I loved the part where he became indignant that the US over-charged China for the costs of the military expedition.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I ever heard a Chinese speak out against overcharging foreigners.

Wish more felt that way! 🙂

September 25, 2005 @ 8:40 am | Comment

On Li Ao’s daughter, she was suing people for 1,000 RMB in damages when her attorney’s fee was over 10,000 RMB. Her point was that it was her mission in life to teach culture and civilization. Great idea in theory, but I wouldn’t want her as a neighbor.

September 25, 2005 @ 9:27 am | Comment

on the subject of repsonse to the tsinghua speech, there are two interesting points here in the thread:

(1) Was Li Ao forced to shut up in round 2? maybe no one can shut him up personally, but he has to consider the friendship with the Phoenix TV head honcho as that whole operation could be banned hereafter. the evidence, though, is ambiguous but quite interesting. i plan to enumerate all the traces on ESWN tomorrow. after all, you would think that this is a story by itself and a far more interesting one at that, but no other big time player (AP, Reuters, NYT, WaPo) wants to jump in.

(2) meanwhile, it is also amusing that on the overseas chinese websites, they loved on the Beijing speech but I counted eight attack essays today on the New Century Net home page. This is hilarious. They quoted his ex-wife’s memoirs, they said that he was a fifth-rate writer, they said that he was wrong to attack America instead of the seven other countries, etc. It is wild.

P.S. It is precisely because of this kind of weirdness that I posted the Tsinghua speech without any spin. I would have liked to link some news reports but there aren’t any except for Taipei Times (which actually told it like it was). Read the text and decide for yourself. Why would you let his ex-wife’s vitriol affect your reactions!

September 25, 2005 @ 9:42 am | Comment

I went out (twice) with Li Ao’s daughter. She’s as close to mad as makes no difference.

September 26, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

Hi Martyn,

I’ve been trying to watch and listen to the chinese version of Li Ao’s speech that you linked to, but after I downloaded it, I realised it only lasts for a few seconds. Is there another link i can use or something?

September 26, 2005 @ 7:52 am | Comment

Hello cryystal

I downloaded the link myself before I posted it and it worked fine for me.

Let me know if you’re still having problems and I’ll be glad to try and track down another link for you.


September 29, 2005 @ 8:34 am | Comment

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