Friday, October 08, 2010

Jailed Chinese Dissident Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Yep, you heard me right. Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese democratic activist, has just won the world's most prestigious award. Huffpo:

Imprisoned Chinese democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that drew furious condemnation from the authoritarian government and calls from world leaders including President Barack Obama for Liu's quick release.

Chinese state media blacked out the news and Chinese government censors blocked Nobel Prize reports, which highlighted Liu's calls for peaceful political change, from Internet websites. China declared the decision would harm its relations with Norway and promptly summoned Oslo's ambassador to Beijing to make a formal protest.

In Oslo, China's ambassador to Norway met with a state secretary at Norway's Foreign Ministry, ministry spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said.

The Norwegian officials explained that the peace prize committee is independent of the government and that Norway wants to maintain good relations with China, Imerslund said.

This year's peace prize followed a long tradition of honoring dissidents around the world and was the first Nobel for China's dissident community since it resurfaced after the Communists launched economic but not political reforms three decades ago...

...The Nobel committee praised Liu's pacifist approach, ignoring threats by Chinese diplomats even before the announcement that such a decision would result in strained ties with Norway. Liu has been an ardent advocate of peaceful, gradual political change.

The Nobel committee cited Liu's participation in the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989 and the Charter 08 document he recently co-authored, which called for greater freedom in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance.

Obama said in a statement that Liu "has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs" and is "an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and nonviolent means."

"We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible," Obama said.
No surprise that Obama said he should be released. They ARE Prizebuddies.

But this is a serious black eye for China. Just as they're starting to get a wee bit belligerent in the region, squabbling with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island chain and with Vietnam over the Spratlys, here comes the Nobel Prize committee saying "hey, folks, remember how China is kind of an oppressive regime? You may have forgotten, but look at this guy! He's amazing, an utter pacifist, and they tossed him in a hole!"

It's going to embolden their external and internal critics, and it's going to be damned near impossible for their Great Firewall to block discussion of all this.

On the other hand, at least now the Chinese and the neo-conservatives have something they can finally commiserate about: how much they loathe the Peace Prize.

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