How to Be a Chinese Democrat:
An Interview with Liu Yu
Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos
The Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 2007
Liu Yu is one of China’s best-known America-watchers. A professor of political science at Tsinghua University, she lived in the US from 2000 to 2007 and now researches democratization in developing countries, including her own. The thirty-eight-year-old became famous in China in 2009 with the publication (in Chinese) of Details of Democracy, a collection of her blogs that described how politics works in America. The book earned her the moniker among online fans as “China’s de Toqueville” (she’s quick to reject that as too flattering). She is a popular public speaker, although she has received fewer invitations to speak in recent months, which she attributes to growing pressure in China to silence critical voices. I spoke to her recently in Beijing.