Xiao Qiang is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of China Digital Times, a bilingual collaborative China news website. A theoretical physicist by training, Xiao studied at the University of Science and Technology of China and entered the PhD program in astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame. He became a full time human rights activist after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Xiao was the executive director of the New York-based NGO Human Rights in China from 1991 to 2002 and vice-chair of the World Movement for Democracy steering committee.
Xiao teaches classes on Participatory Media/Collective Action and Covering China at both the School of Information and the Graduate School of Journalism. He also researches and writes about state online censorship and propaganda, the emerging "Citizen Blogging" movement, and network activism in Chinese cyberspace. In fall 2003, Xiao launched China Digital Times to explore how to apply Web 2.0 technologies to aggregate, interpret, and contextualize news about China. In 2006, he helped initiate and facilitate the Open Net Consensus forum — which started the process of developing global principles on freedom of expression and privacy; the forum included Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other global internet companies, as well as several universities and human rights and civil rights organizations and investors. This process led to the launch of the Global Network Initiative in October 2008.
Xiao is a recipient of a 2001 MacArthur Fellowship, and is profiled in the book Soul Purpose: 40 People Who Are Changing the World for the Better (Melcher Media, 2003). He was a visiting fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in 2002.