Nobel Peace Prize 2010 for Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo who is serving a prison term of 11 years for having signed Charter 08, a document that calls for political reforms and civil liberties.

More than enough has been and will be written about Liu Xiaobo, by far more competent writers, but I nonetheless want to share my initial first thoughts that came to mind after I heard of the Nobel Committee’s decision:

1. Finally a laureate again who really deserves the prize.

It was about time that this prize went again to somebody who is risking his freedom and his life in a peaceful struggle against a dictatorship, trying to achieve the most basic steps to democracy and human rights. Liu Xiaobo is exactly the man for whom the Nobel Peace Prize was created.

In recent years, the prize had become a bit of a joke in my eyes, having been awarded to 3 politicians in a row that serve or served in Western democratic countries. As valuable as the contributions of Al Gore, Martti Ahtisaari and Barack Obama may have been, none of them has suffered any hardship, risk to life or constraint of liberty for the work they did. The same is true for other Nobel laureates of the past decade, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Mohamed El-Baradei of whom you could say that they have merely been doing their (highly paid) jobs, or in the case of Jimmy Carter have simply been unable to come to terms with no longer being in office.

2. How to treat China?

Only days before the Nobel Committee’s announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and agreed to “strengthen European-Chinese economic relations“.

The fate of Liu Xiaobo painfully reminds us: Any hope that we and people in China had that prosperity, growth and trade would somehow automatically lead to a more open society, to civil liberties and finally to democracy, has been crushed like a student underneath a Chinese tank. Conveniently for both sides, China’s leaders lied to the West about considering political reforms and Western politicians pretended to care about it. In reality, all they care about can be expressed in Euros, Dollars and Renminbi.

Our trade with China not only props up a Communist dictatorship, but because China in turn has very active trade relations with many other dictatorships in Asia and Africa, we indirectly prop up other regimes against which we purport to have sanctions in place. China is the hub through which we finance Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe. If we want to use economic sanctions as leverage for our political goals (and I think we should), then China is the key.

(I wonder if this blog will fall prey to the Chinese internet censorship. If you can read this in China, please let us know!)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in China, Human Rights, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Nobel Peace Prize 2010 for Liu Xiaobo

  1. t.o.v.a.r.y.s.c.h says:

    1) I did not know that it is a selection criterion for the Nobel peace prize that the candidate has suffered hardship or some risk to his life.

    2) I do not believe that Western politicians are still in the position to threaten China with economic sanctions or anything alike. Unfortunately…

  2. Textículos says:

    In “The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers” by Richard McGregor, a law professor from Beijing, He Weifang tells «Deng concocted a unique dual system. ‘As an organisation, the Party sits outside, and above the law, It should have a legal identity, in other words, a person to sue, but it is not even registered as an organisation. The Party exists outside the legal system altogether.’» Let’s hope this prize, as the Burmenese Aung San Suu Kyi’s did, raises awareness against the official propaganda insisting obsessively on the notion of an harmonious chinese society. This very excess bears witness to the opposite, to the threat of chaos and disorder the party is worried about, and the rebellions by workers, farmers and minorities put down by the police and the army every year. In a Stalinist hermeneutics rule of thumb, since the official media do not openly report trouble, the most reliable way to detect it is to look out for the compensatory excesses in state propaganda, the more ‘harmony’ is celebrated, the more antagonism there is in reality.

  3. brianleonal says:

    Hi Andreas, I think the fundamental issue here is not about how much hardship have the laureates faced. I think it’s more to how important their contribution is to the advancement of freedom, human rights and peace. But I certainly do share the same sentiment. I do think this time the award goes to the right person.

    And regarding your economic engagement, I think you can’t really help it. The Chinese is now playing a really big role in global economy. But altruistically (and perhaps, innocently), I hope we can separate political and economic matters. We might be begging the dictators for money, but I really hope we can speak up for the inequities and abuses they carry out. I do hope we can start to stand up for the real American principles, namely the freedom of speech and self determination. And I am sure American public can make a change to improve this situation, only if they’re united in their cause. The USA may be economically weak now, but she still has the strongest political muscle any country in the world can contract. You don’t have to speak it, yet every single person on earth knows it =)

  4. brianleonal says:

    ohh, and I certainly enjoy reading your piece. It’s a good one, I think =)

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