Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Yu Jie, a noted Chinese dissident writer who left China for the United States in January, has won the 2012 Civil Courage Prize, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.
Yu, 38, is the first Chinese citizen to be granted the accolade. He told Radio Free Asia that he was honored and gratified to receive the award.
The outspoken critic of Beijing's leadership also said he believes that his being given the prize should encourage and salute those who have long fought for freedom, democracy and human rights in China.
The decision of the Train Foundation, which awards the prize, to present the award to a Chinese national also reflects a deterioration of human rights in China and growing international concern over the situation in the world's most populous country, Yu said.
Born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Yu published a biography of the imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong earlier this year. Liu is serving an 11-year term for what China's communist rulers call "incitement to subvert state power."
Yu also published a book in Hong Kong in 2010 titled "China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao," which criticizes the Chinese premier.
The author told Radio Free Asia that he is currently writing a book about Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Under the Hu-Wen leadership, Yu said, China has lost a precious 10 years in which it could have carried out political reforms and undergone democratic transition.
Yu said he is hopeful that the book on Hu, to be tentatively named "Emperor Harmonious Hu Jintao: He Led China to a Lost Decade," will hit bookstore shelves before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China so that it can serve as "a special gift to the party."
The Train Foundation created the annual Civil Courage Prize 12 years ago.
Previous winners include Myanmar pro-democracy activist Min Ko Naing, Rev. Phillip Buck, an American evangelical pastor who was once jailed in northeastern China for helping move refugees from North Korea through China to safety in South Korea, and Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist, author and human rights activist who was shot and killed in the elevator of her apartment block in October 2006.
The 2012 prize will be presented in a ceremony to be held in New York Oct. 17. Yu will also be awarded US$50,000 in prize money.
(By Hsiao Boa-hsiang and Sofia Wu)