Saturday, October 9, 2010

China Pouts over Nobel Peace Prize

Two weeks ago China warned the Nobel Committee not to award this year's Peace Prize to jailed dissident, Liu Xiaobo, whom the government regards as a criminal and the rest of the world sees as a fighter for basic human rights in China. 

Yesterday, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2010 peace prize to Liu Xiaobo in spite of the warning.. China is not amused. Western news sources, radio, TV, and internet are being blocked while Chinese officials are calling the award an " obscenity" and official news sources note that the award was made" just to annoy China"

The BBC's China experts commented thusly:
One editorial in the Global Times newspaper said in English: "Obviously, the Nobel Peace Prize this year is meant to irritate China, but it will not succeed."
"On the contrary, the committee disgraced itself."
The paper's Chinese-language edition called the award "an arrogant showcase of Western ideology" and said that it had disrespected the Chinese people.

Liu Xiaobo has been fighting for human rightsfor decades. .He participated in the 1989 Tiananmen  Square uprising and has been outspoken ever since.  He is currently  in a Chinese jail, serving his fourth prison term--this one for his participation in  Charter08, a manifesto calling for greater civil rights and freedom of speech in China, as well as an end to one party rule.

The central  communist party rules with an iron hand, and often, there is not much of a velvet glove covering it. China is concerned with being seen as a world leader. It likes things like the Beijing Olympics which increase its prestige.  It does not like criticism from outside and simply will not tolerate it from within. You might say it is a bit paranoid. The award may make Westerners feel all warm and cuddly, but it probably will not do much for human rights in China or the attitude of China towards human rights around the world.

A repressive communist government is already cracking down in the wake of the award. Dozens of rights activists have suddenly disappeared.  Mr. Liu's wife was prevented from meeting with reporters on Friday and, as of this week-end is nowhere to be found. She has just disappeared-- a not uncommon occurence in China, especially for those the government finds embarrassing.   If the past is any guide, the award will only lead to greater repression and pain for those fighting for truth, justice and freedom of speech.  What a pity.

The increasingly nervous Chinese Government is more concerned with its image abroad than the welfare of its people.  It is also increasingly worried about losing control domestically. There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction which could become domestic unrest. The memory of Tienneman Square still burns bright. 

While there is no question that Liu Xiaobo,deserves  the Nobel Peace prize, one has to hope that the resulting government crackdown will not tarnish the honor for him, his family and his followers. . Kudos to the  Nobel Committee for not caving in to Chinese government pressure. May the rest of us who already enjoy personal freedom be as brave.

 

Update 10/12/2010

For a glimpse inside the soul of Liu Xiaobo please read this post by Andrew Leonard posted today on Salon.com.

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