Li Ao

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Li Ao (Chinese: 李敖; pinyin: Lǐ Áo) (born April 25, 1935), is a writer, social commentator, historian, and independent politician in the Republic of China (Taiwan).

He is considered by many to be one of the most important modern Chinese essayists today, although critics have termed him an intellectual narcissist. His political inclinations are more controversial; he is a very vocal critic of both the Kuomintang and the Democratic Progressive Party and their many politicians, including Chiang Kai-shek, Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian. Although he favors unification, especially under "One Country, Two Systems", Li refuses to call himself Pan-Blue due to its association with the KMT. He firmly believes in Chinese nationalism and, in Taiwan, is given much media exposure thanks to his popularity as a writer.



Li was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province to Li Dingyi (李鼎彝), a professor of Chinese, and Zhang Kuichen (張桂貞). His family has ancestry in Wei County (濰縣), Shandong Province, and Fuyu County (扶餘縣), Jilin Province. The entire Li family, except for two children, moved to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Dissident writer

Li Ao was credited for his contributions to the democratic movement in Taiwan between the 1960s and 1980s. In the 1960s, he was the editor-in-chief of Wenxing (文星), a magazine that promoted democracy and personal freedom. He was jailed by the Kuomintang government for more than five years (from 1972 and 1976, and again from 1981 to 1982) after helping a pro-Taiwan independence political prisoner, Peng Ming-min, escape to Japan in 1963. Ironically, Li Ao had a long history of being an advocate of reunification.

Throughout the 1970s, Li Ao received much international attention for his imprisonment. He was highlighted by Amnesty International as one of the three most important political prisoners in Taiwan in 1974.

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