Liu rose to fame in the literary circle with his literary critiques and became a visiting scholar at several overseas universities. He returned home to support the
During his fourth prison term, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in
Evolving from his aesthetic notion of "Individual Subjectivity" as opposed to Li Zehou's theory of aesthetic subjectivity which combined Marxist materialism and Kantian idealism, he upheld the notion of "aesthetic freedom" which was based on the individualistic conception of freedom and aesthetics. He also strongly criticized the traditional attitude of Chinese intellectuals of searching for rationalism and harmony as "slave mentality" as it was criticized by radical left-wing literary critic Lu Xun during the New Cultural Movement. He also echoed the New Cultural Movement's call for wholesale westernization and rejection of the Chinese traditional culture. In an interview, he said "modernization means wholesale westernization, choosing a human life is choosing Western way of life. Difference between Western and Chinese governing system is humane vs. in-humane, there's no middle ground... Westernization is not a choice of a nation, but a choice for the human race." In 2002, he reflected his Mao-style radical aesthetic and political views at the time:
In a 1988 interview with Hong Kong's Liberation Monthly (now known as Open Magazine), Liu was asked what it would take for
Liu admitted in 2006 that the response was extemporaneous, although he did not intend to take it back, as it represented "an extreme expression of his long-held belief." The quote was nonetheless used against him. He has commented, "Even today [in 2006], radical patriotic 'angry youth' still frequently use these words to paint me with 'treason'."
He was also a strong critic of Chinese nationalism, believing that the "abnormal nationalism" existed in China over the last century had turned from a defensive style of the "mixed feelings of inferiority, envy, complaint, and blame to an aggressive "patriotism" of "blind self-confidence, empty boasts, and pent-up hatred". The "ultra-nationalism", being deployed by the Chinese Communist Party since the Tiananmen protests, has also become "a euphemism for worship of violence in service of autocratic goals."
In his letter to his friend Liao Yiwu in 2000, he expressed his thought on the prospect of the democracy movement in
In 2009 when he was tried for "inciting subversion of state power" due to his participation with the Charter 08 manifesto which demanded freedom of expression, human rights and democratic elections, he wrote an essay known as "I Have No Enemies", stating that "the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy", and declared he had no enemies, and no hatred.
On international affairs, he supported U.S. President George W. Bush's 2001 invasion of