The Nobel Crackdown

Beijing’s far-reaching efforts to keep Chinese supporters of Liu Xiaobo from attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo reveal an increasingly anxious undercurrent in China.  Please read the article in Foreign Policy here:

On Dec. 10, for the first time since 1936, when Nazi Germany prevented Carl von Ossietzky from traveling to Norway to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, neither the laureate nor any of his family members will be able to attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo.

Liu Xiaobo, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, is serving an 11-year sentence in a prison in northeastern China, after being convicted one year ago of “inciting subversion to state power.” His wife, Liu Xia, is forcibly confined at home in Beijing by the police, and prevented from talking publicly under threat of losing her right to visit Liu. All the principal signatories and co-drafters of Charter 08 — the manifesto calling for bottom-up political reforms that prompted Liu’s arrest in December 2008 — are under tight police surveillance, prevented from assembling, giving interviews to the media, or traveling abroad.

In selecting Liu in the face of pressure from Beijing, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has laid bare the Chinese government’s overt hostility to human rights norms, at home and abroad. Since the prize was awarded in early October, the Chinese Communist Party has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on dissidents. Scores of Chinese citizens have been detained, placed under house arrested, or prevented from travelling to the ceremony in Oslo. But the prize and the ensuing clampdown may turn out to have profound consequences for how the world views China, and China’s own ability to pursue its foreign-policy objectives.

The Global Times issued another editorial blasting the prize. From Reuters:

The Nobel Committee said on Thursday human rights were basic “universal values” but Communist Party ideologists consider the phrase to be code words for Western liberal values.

“Today in Norway’s Oslo, there will be a farce staged: ‘The Trial of China’,” popular tabloid the Global Times, which is run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, said in an editorial.

“Recently Western public opinion has not stopped cheering for the Nobel Committee, they are attempting to describe China’s ‘loss of face’ and ’embarrassment’,” it said. “No matter how strong the West’s opinion, its slap will not be that strong, it will not be able to hoodwink the public.”

And the Washington Post looks at Liu’s comments and articles that are now being used against him by government propagandists:

Debate over whether China can find its own uniquely Chinese path to economic and political modernization or take the road pioneered by the West has raged since the collapse of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, in 1911. Liu, a literary critic and essayist, stands firmly at the pro-Western end of the spectrum, a position that has put him sharply at odds with China’s prevailing orthodoxy.

Over the last 30 years, the Communist Party has steadily cut its roots in Marxist dogma imported from the West and put Chinese nationalism at the center of its governing ideology.

“This is the best card they’ve got and they play it to the maximum,” said Bao Pu, a Hong Kong-based publisher whose father, a former senior Communist Party official in Beijing, was jailed in 1989 for supporting pro-democracy student protesters. Bao described efforts to paint Liu as a traitor “as ridiculous” and has just published a collection of the dissident’s writings to present a more complete picture of his views. But, Bao said, branding critics of the ruling party as unpatriotic “can be very effective.”

See also:
Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize by James Fallows in the Atlantic
For China’s Absent Nobel Winner, A Lasting Reward from NPR
– All of CDT’s coverage of Liu Xiaobo over the past six years
– Video from Al Jazeera:


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