EyePress News/Reuters

In October 2022, Peng Lifa unfurled two political banners in central Beijing calling on the Chinese government to put an end to the country’s restrictive zero-COVID policy and one-party authoritarianism. Protests erupted throughout China using blank sheets of A4 paper as a symbol of dissent. As of today, Peng Lifa and many of the protesters involved have been detained or have disappeared from public view. Their personal courage and resistance under authoritarian rule represent a pivotal moment that must be remembered by history. It is only with such resistance that people may keep the flame of belief in truth and justice burning in their hearts. In the current era, the qualities of free expression and resistance, which come at a price, are exceedingly rare to find. Unfortunately, in most cases, what we consider to be expression lacks meaning. The true meaning of expression emerges only when individuals like Peng Lifa are willing to make sacrifices and pay the price.

Ai is an artist and activist

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Olena Zelenska
Lionel Messi
Aubrey Plaza
Michael B. Jordan
Colleen Hoover
5 stories