So eager has China’s government been to have one of its citizens win a Nobel Prize that someone even wrote a book about it. But this wasn’t what Beijing had in mind. In giving the Peace Prize to Charter 08’s Liu Xiaobo, “the Nobel committee once again displayed its arrogance and prejudice against a country that has made the most remarkable economic and social progress in the past three decades.” The decision was a blasphemy that desecrated the prize, according to a foreign affairs spokesman (maybe the same one who described the Olympic flame as ‘sacred’ a couple of years back).
Sometimes you can see why the black hair-dye brigade up in Zhongnanhai must think the whole world is against them. The rest of the planet relies on China’s mighty economic munificence, yet the full respect they crave just isn’t forthcoming.
Their protests anytime anyone meets the Dalai Lama or Uigur activist Rebiya Kadeer are received as boorish and insecure and simply raise the splittists’ profiles. The world’s crumbling, soon-to-be number-two power, the US, spends mid-2010 rejecting China’s claim to the South China Sea, endorsing Japanese sovereignty over the Doaiyu/Senkaku Islands and preparing to disregard pleas not to sell Taiwan a new range of sea and air defence equipment. Now, after imploring Norway not to disgrace the prize Alfred Nobel originally established to honour those who (as the spokesman puts it) contribute to “national harmony and country-to-country friendship,” and warning the Nordics of damaged relations, Liu gets the prize anyway. It’s a conspiracy. Is there any other explanation?
The Chinese government brought this squarely on itself last Christmas Day by sentencing Liu to an extremely harsh 11 years for his authorship of Charter 08’s call for peaceful transition to constitutional democratic rule. Beijing’s desperate intention was to prevent him from becoming a prominent de-facto opposition leader. If they had locked him up for a year or two, as they had on three previous occasions, it would have been just another jailing for Liu. But now his name is known around the world, and he really is the nearest China has to a Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi. And no doubt millions of curious Chinese who have barely heard of him will seek and find a copy of Charter 08 to read. Nice job.
Meanwhile, the world awaits with interest to see what sort of revenge the PRC will find to wreak upon Scandinavia’s oil sheikdom. Norwegians want for nothing, least of all from China. But I guess that’s the last batch of panda bear sperm Oslo Zoo will be seeing for a while.