Paulina Hartono: Symbols: Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize

CDT’s  own Paulina Hartono has contributed an essay to China Beat about the symbolism inherent in the awarding of the to :

Symbols lie within a tricky territory because they are so open to interpretation. Earlier, I wrote that Liu’s work has a lot of symbolic versus concrete power. That is not to rob it of its value in the least. If anything, I think it speaks to the might that is harnessed by a seed of thought, as made manifest through open—while not yet free—speech.

So I do find it somewhat ironic that while the prize is a recognition of freedom of speech advocacy, there won’t be much human rights dialogue going on.

First, because many of Liu’s ideas are rather broad-based, there is no settled understanding of what kind of human rights need to be discussed, or what China’s “entail[ed] increased responsibility” is. Nobody disagrees that China should have better human rights, not even its central government. The points of contention are which specific rights should be protected, how following legislation should be implemented, and in what time frame reforms must take place.

But who are the actors to make such decisions? The international community, or the Chinese state itself? If this prize conferral does not bring human rights dialogue to the table, it will provide heated discussion on national sovereignty and international relations. For one, you will be hard-pressed to find news on Liu’s prize in Chinese-language newspapers. But you will find governmental condemnations of Liu as a criminal, as well as questions over the validity of the Nobel Peace Prize more generally.

SUPPORT CDT

CDT on Twitter

Google Ads 1

CDT EBOOKS

Giving Assistant

Amazon Smile

Google Ads 2

Anti-censorship Tools

Life Without Walls

Click on the image to download Firefly for circumvention

Open popup
X

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.