Washington, D.C. — Radio Free Asia (RFA) today released an e-book featuring the artwork of Wang Liming, also known as Rebel Pepper, whose career as a political cartoonist began by satirizing politics in his native China. In this collection of 50 drawings, titled “Drawing Fire: The Political Cartoons of Rebel Pepper,” Wang continues to apply his editorial and artistic wit to events in China, while also tackling issues from North Korean nuclear provocations to Cambodian political machinations to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Burma. RFA’s e-book is available free for download on iTunes, Google Play, and the RFA website’s e-book shelf (in PDF format).
“Rebel Pepper masters the art of making big statements with few to no words,” said Libby Liu, President of RFA.“Political cartoonists serve up satire, caricatures, and dark humor that can be controversial, if not subversive, even in free societies with long histories of unfettered media and open debate.
“In countries where independent thought is repressed and even criminalized, the resonance of visual commentary can be a lifeline.”
Wang honed his craft in his native China, where the government is more famous for censorship than for a sense of humor, and where often grim political and human rights topics do not lend themselves easily to light treatment. His success in giving expression to the thoughts of his thousands of followers both on taboo subjects and on everyday experiences drew the wrath of the mighty Chinese Communist Party.
“I want to use my talents for change using a format that can be understood by everyone,” said Wang. “In China, to be a cartoonist is a very dangerous profession. I believe by doing my artwork I help friends and others in China whose voices have been silenced. To have an opportunity to think, say, and, of course, draw anything without fear is a right that cannot be taken for granted.”
Forced to leave his homeland in 2014, Rebel Pepper first found haven in Japan before settling in Washington, D.C. His cartoons have appeared in the Japanese edition of Newsweek, Index of Censorship, and China Digital Times, among other publications. He began working for RFA in June 2017. Throughout his journey he continued to hone his craft, challenging Chinese state-controlled narratives and expanding his graphic editorials for RFA.
Radio Free Asia is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting and publishing online news, information, and commentary in 9 East Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. RFA’s broadcasts seek to promote the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” RFA is funded by an annual grant from USAGM.
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