Three Chinese writers have won the prestigious Hellman-Hammett Award. Awarded by Human Rights Watch, the Hellman-Hammett was established in 1989 by American playwright Lillian Hellman for writers who are in financial difficulties because of the expression of their views. The three Chinese writers are Liu Binyan, Liao Yiwu and Wang Lixiong. All three were persecuted by Chinese authorities for their writings critical of Chinese politics. The three, along with 25 other writers from over a dozen countries, will share the $170,000 grant.
According to Human Rights Watch,"Wang Lixiong (China) writes political fiction and essays. He first came to the censors´ attention with publication of Drifting, an account of his solitary voyage down the Yellow River in 1984. The trip, which took him to a Tibetan area, awakened his interest in Tibetan issues. Subsequently, he made ten trips to Tibet and wrote Sky Burial – The Fate of Tibet, a comprehensive and objective report on Tibet´s independence movement. In 1999, while traveling in predominantly Muslim Xinjiang in northwest China, Wang Lixiong was accused of leaking state secrets and detained for more than a month. On release, he continued writing and published Melting Power – Ascension from the Ranks, a book about political reform. Since then, he has been under heavy surveillance and his writing is banned. He held a job at Friends of Nature, a Chinese environmental NGO, but in February 2003, government officials warned Friends of Nature that his continued employment put its registration at risk, and he was dismissed."