Chinese state news outlets criticized Mr. Liu, particularly after the Nobel Prize, for his previous writings and interviews that praised the West over China. In one oft-quoted passage from a 1988 interview with Open Magazine in Hong Kong, then a British colony, he said that since the city had progressed so much during 100 years of British rule, China would “need 300 years of colonialism” to catch up. But in later work he expressed second thoughts. In the epilogue to his 1990 book “Chinese Politics and China’s Modern Intellectuals,” he wrote:
My tendency to idealize Western civilization arises from my nationalistic desire to use the West in order to reform China. But this has led me to overlook the flaws in Western culture — or, even if I see them, to set them aside intentionally. I have not, therefore, been able to stand apart from Western culture, take a critical view of it and perhaps get a better view of human frailty more generally. I have been obsequious toward Western civilization, exaggerating its merits, and at the same time exaggerating my own merits. I have viewed the West as if it were not only the salvation of China but also the natural and ultimate destination of all humanity.
(Translation by Stacy Mosher in “No Enemies, No Hatred”)