Founder and Editor in Chief, China Digital Times | United States
While Chinese Internet czar Lu Wei broadens the reach of the Great Firewall from an office in Beijing, Xiao Qiang finds ways to tunnel under it from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is an adjunct professor. Xiao originally came to the United States to study astrophysics, but became a human rights activist in 1989 after the crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square. The website he founded, China Digital Times, publishes confidential Chinese propaganda directives, lists blocked keywords, and generally does whatever it can to make life harder for Chinese censors an ocean away. A 2001 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (which some call a "genius grant"), Xiao has continued to shape American understanding of China at the highest levels, briefing senior White House and State Department officials on Internet freedom in late 2014.