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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Silenced Laureate

On October 8th, Liu Xiaobao, a Chinese political dissident currently serving an 11 year jail sentence for anti-party and pro-democracy writings, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The reaction to this news in China has been fascinating to say the least. From the AP

Anticipating the award, Chinese circumvented Internet controls and called friends overseas to learn the news. Supporters and friends gathered outside Liu’s central Beijing apartment, where his wife was kept inside by police. At a park, a civil rights lawyer, a retired official-turned-blogger and a dozen other people cheered and waved placards saying “Long Live Freedom of Speech.” The demonstrators were later taken away by police.

A buzz of congratulations coursed through Chinese instant messaging sites before censors scrubbed postings and blocked cell phone text messages that contained the characters for Liu’s name.

The government’s reaction to Liu Xiaobao’s recognition highlights the extent of state control on media. For the entire week following the announcement of the award, there was a large blackout on the Liu Xiaobao story in all websites, TV stations and print news. The only statement that was officially released by the government was one that expressed disappointment and warned that the award may strain diplomatic relationships with Norway.

Furthermore, the government has recently pushed some Norwegians to discredit the actions taken by their Nobel Committee. Recently published in the China Daily are two articles that offer a dismissive attitude toward the committee’s award. The first was from a Norwegian legal professional who called the decision to award Liu Xiaobao the award “wrong and illegal.”

On Oct 10, Heffermehl criticized that the selection of the peace prize winner by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has violated Nobel’s intended purpose….Nobel established the prize for “the champions of peace” to support their efforts at disarmament and peace movement. “With all due respect to Liu Xiaobo, this is yet another example that this is no longer Nobel’s prize, it is the peace prize of the Norwegian Storting (the supreme legislature in Norway).

The second article, in a clear attempt to promote the Chinese Government efforts, the Daily quotes a Norwegian Entrepreneur (a CEO of a big shipping company with a significant business interests in China), who claims that “maybe it is CHINA that truly deserves the Nobel Peace Prize” for the “the greatest economic development we have ever seen.”

Though, during the past 20 years, the living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly improved, many are still struggling hard for a better living. Yet China has undoubtedly performed impressively in many areas, such as improving its education system, increasing productivity, constructing nuclear power plants and high-speed railways, and developing Internet technology. As for green technology, Chinese companies are striving to explore the domestic market and play a leading role in the world. Of course China still has a long way to go, and there is no denying it has many problems that will require great wisdom to solve.

This of course isn’t the first time China has reacted negatively to the selection of Nobel Laureates – notably, Tenzin Gyatso (the Dalai Lama) and the writer, Gao Xingjiang were two prominent (former) Chinese dissidents to have recently won the prize. The reaction to these awards along with Liu Xiabao’s, continue to show that the government is content to censor events even of this magnitude for fear of the public reaction to the awards.

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