Friday, October 8, 2010

Does anyone want China to become another India?

voa_chinese_liuxiaobo_25nov09_300Who is Liu Xiaobo? The Chinese government would prefer if you didn't know. But, unfortunately, the Norwegian Nobel Committee knew and decided to award him the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. This, despite the protests from the Chinese government.

An excerpt from the citation of the Norwegian Nobel Committee:

Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal.

The country now has the world's second largest economy; hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.

Scope for political participation has also broadened.

China's new status must entail increased responsibility.

China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights.

Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration".

In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens.

For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China.

He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008.

Leaders the world over have urged the Chinese government to release Liu. But, is China really concerned? Dissidents hardly have a voice within the country, and given China's economic strength, can countries really afford to take a "real stand" on its human rights violations? China too has been playing its cards smartly to further its geopolitical clout.

Unfortunately, though, this was not the main idea that we wanted to highlight through this post. It was this comment in response to the BBC news story on Liu being awarded the Nobel.
I think Western countries still view my country with prejudice. Maybe at the moment China is not as free as your country. But we can make decisions quickly which makes our government one of the most efficient in the world. Does anyone want China to become another India?

Wang Fan, Dalian, Liaoning

Wonder if Wang Fan is part of China's '50-cent party'.

Another '50-center' perhaps:
It is strange. In China, if you did a survey most would say this guy should be sent to the prison. If we followed his ideas, China would be unstable and that would be worse for most Chinese people. What do you think of the present situation in China? We have good economic situation and increasing living standard of the people. Is that not what the Norwegian people want? Or does the committee in Norway want a weak and backward China?

Jack, Shanghai

There are a few hailing the award, but the following comment shows the kind of media restriction that exists in the country:
As an editor for an English language newspaper on the Chinese mainland, I can say that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo is going to cause a great many red faces in officialdom - and a quandary for the Chinese media. While most ordinary Chinese have not heard of Mr Liu (the media is forbidden from mentioning his name), the prominence of the award is such that even China's strict media controls will be unable to prevent this news from circulating.

Robert, China

Well, every debate needs two opinions, and some like Vladimir Putin get girls posing for two very different kinds of calendars too.

To conclude, we leave you with another question: does anyone want India to become another China?

(Image copyright: VoA)


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