How China turns its enemies into heroes

The media are abuzz today with stories on how China is trying to create an international boycott of the Nobel Prize awards in Oslo. Not surprisingly, it’s blocking Chinese activists who it believes may be leaving to attend the ceremonies, and it’s trying to strong-arm other countries from participating.

In addition to using its newfound economic might to warn world leaders away from the ceremony, China has waged an equally vociferous campaign at home to tarnish Mr. Liu’s reputation and delegitimize the award in the eyes of the Chinese people.

After a brief news blackout on the prize, the country’s state-controlled media began rolling out articles and editorials describing it as an insult to the country’s criminal justice system, a ploy to hold back China’s rise and a tactic to subvert the country’s political system. Other commentaries have painted Mr. Liu as a corrupt pawn of Western governments.

The warnings have already prompted a handful of European countries, among them France, Britain, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, to announce they would hew to established protocol and send ambassadors.

Michael C. Davis, a law professor and human rights expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he thought China’s effort to organize a boycott of the ceremony — like its earlier campaign to dissuade the Norwegian Committee from selecting Mr. Liu — would probably backfire. In fact, he said Beijing’s overall handling of the matter was only drawing more attention to Mr. Liu’s plight and to the country’s checkered human rights record. “The Chinese often unintentionally turn their enemies into heroes,” he said.

Of course, the lady doth protest too much, and professor Davis hits the nail on the head: China has a knack for turning those it would seek to vilify into heroes and martyrs.

The fact that China is such an insecure child that it can’t stomach the notion of leaders of other countries attending the Oslo ceremony speaks volumes. Liu has won the prize. The ceremony is going to take place. The news of Liu Xiaobo winning is now old news, and the ceremony itself is anticlimactic (the big news having been the announcement of the winners).

There was only one possible way for China to keep the eyes of the world riveted on Liu’s winning the prize and to perpetuate the notion, true or false, that China is still a prickly, paranoid state, and that was to keep throwing gasoline on what should have been by now a smoldering pile of ash. That’s exactly what China has done, stopping people from leaving the country and making veiled threats to other nations about participating in Oslo.

Congratulations, China. Through your grit and determination, you’ve guaranteed continual media coverage of Liu’s plight and managed to convince the world yet again that you’re not yet made of the stuff of a superpower. At least you’re predictable. From the stream of slanderous articles about Liu to the online chatter of his being a stooge for the NED to blocking the travel of activists to your threats to hold your breath until you turn blue if other countries participate – well, it’s all from the same playbook you’ve been using for years, and none of it comes unexpected. I really wish, however, that one day you might surprise us and show your cleverness. I mean, maybe you could manage your loss of face without going all apoplectic and hysterical, and inadvertently giving greater power to the party you see as your enemy while weakening your own agenda.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 95 Comments

HX we actually have a Constitution and you can sue to be sure your rights are endorsed. That’s why you can shout “god hates fags” outside the funerals of US Marines killed in action. You can also shout about Jews. It would be sick and repellent but legal. For someone living in the US so long you sure are ignorant.

November 12, 2010 @ 7:33 am | Comment

To compare civil liberties and freedom of expression in a more fair and meaningful manner, stack China against other states on its end of the spectrum: Vietnam, Myanmar, North Korea, Belarus, Cuba, Syria, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

November 12, 2010 @ 8:26 am | Comment

HX,

Sorry this one is unspinnable…I was very clear what needed to be said, by whom, and where. And you know that I’m right. You wouldn’t last longer than 30 seconds, 1 minute tops on your end of the bargain.*

I used to work right next to Lafayette Park, I’ve seen people sitting there FOR HOURS yelling the weirdest, vilest crap. I’ve also been to TAM where I once saw the police almost tackle some poor 土包子 (relative of yours, perhaps?) for pulling out a beach towel which the guards mistook for…I know not what.

*Sorry if that timetable conjures up too many awkward memories of your last date.

November 12, 2010 @ 8:59 am | Comment

So the logic goes, because the Govt is an enemy of the people (no human rights, no protection, no property law enforcement, rampant corruption), then anyone who opposes the government (their enemies) become heroes of the People? Got it.

Ever read ‘Out of Mao’s shadow’?

November 12, 2010 @ 9:35 am | Comment

John, you have no idea what you are talking about. You can say Jews Are Pigs whenever you want if it’s on public property. We have Tea Party lunatics shrieking that liberals are the Anti-Christ, we have Pam Geller saying dehumanizing things about Muslims, we have the American Nazi Party and others saying horrible things about the Jews, the Klan still shouts “Nigger” and so forth. You are simply flat-out wrong that you cannot do this in America. You obviously don’t live in America. Looking at your recent comments, I have to say, with all due respect, that you’re a BSer.

For anyone who really wants to understand the power of the First Amendment in America take a look at the current controversy over the deranged Fred Phelps and his church members who attack the most sacred group in the country in the mind of the government, US soldiers who died in battle for their country. They stand outside their funerals and shriek that they deserved to die and the rejoice in their deaths. And no one can stop them, because of the First Amendment. Louis Farrakhan may rant at the Jews and it will be condemned, but it can’t be outlawed because of the First Amendment.

But what we are seeing is thread drift, as Hong Xing and John Chan try to shift the conversation. No more about the BS argument that you can’t say anti-Jewish things in public. Of course you can. Now, back to Liu Xiaobo and China’s appallingly ham-fisted insistence that the world remember him and sympathize with him.

November 12, 2010 @ 9:35 am | Comment

Michael, have I ever read Out of Mao’s Shadow? Please go here.

November 12, 2010 @ 9:48 am | Comment

Why is “allowing someone to say something” a good standard to judge anything about a country or government? Too superficial, too simple, too naive.

The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites. The true masters of China are the CCP elites. If you try to challenge their core interests, they’ll smash you, no mercy. This is the same for every group of ruling elites in the world. This is nature of a State (just read Lenin’s State and Revolution). It’s childish to think there’s any big difference between the US and China in terms of the ruling elites.

You say “oh how come I can shout this in US but you can’t do it in China?”. Childish question. It’s just like different degree of tolerance. Some people’s personality can tolerate criticism, others are more sensitive. Different people have different personalities, this world needs diversity of personalities.

Are you saying there should only be one personality in the world? Is this not dictatorship by itself? I believe in diversity and respect for differences.

November 12, 2010 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Sorry for letting the trolls get to me tonight.

Hong Xing, I’d forgotten you were an anti-Semite. Thanks for reminding me.

November 12, 2010 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

I said the true masters of the US are the jewish ruling elites? Why is this anti-semite? Is it not a compliment to say they are the true master? If I am anti-semite, then I’m anti-CCP too? Because I also said they are the true master of China.

I think there’s a lot in common between jewish and Chinese: both value education, both are good businessmen, both don’t care too much about sports, etc. Many American friends I make have jewish roots. There’s a very beautiful girl in my work place that is jewish (not totally traditional jewish, more Americanized), and she is the only one who is nice to me and talks to me and respects me, not like those WASP females.

November 12, 2010 @ 1:01 pm | Comment

“I used to work right next to Lafayette Park, I’ve seen people sitting there FOR HOURS yelling the weirdest, vilest crap. I’ve also been to TAM where I once saw the police almost tackle some poor 土包子 (relative of yours, perhaps?) for pulling out a beach towel which the guards mistook for…I know not what.”

So what? The way the Americans run America does not have to be the way Chinese run China. Just because you allow people to smoke in your house, does that mean I have to allow the same in mine? Of course not.

The rights and wrongs of the case of Zhang Lianhai, are not for foreigners to decide. In the US people have been sentenced to eight years in prison for using plastic bags, instead of cardboard boxes to pack lobsters.
http://www.economist.com/node/16640389

Sounds harsh to me – you certainly would not draw such a stiff sentence for a similar crim in China. So how would Americans feel if China started to make an issue of this particular case, or started to condemn the US for having an incarceration rate of five or six times that of China’s?

No country is perfect, and there is no prerequiste that a country should be perfect before it can operate as a fully sovereign and respected member of the world community.

November 12, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

Richard, not to offer Red Star too much of a defense, but does saying “The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites” really constitute anti-Semitism? I say the same thing, but when I say it, I’m saying it in the tone “The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites- cool!”, because I’m resolutely philosemitic and would rather have the Jews secretly running everything than anyone else. In fact, I notice this sentiment is pretty common among Northeast Asians- tell them about a jewish banking conspiracy, and their reaction is typically something to the effect, “Ah, Jews are very smart! How do we get involved?” I still don’t understand why more people don’t have such a pragmatic attitude towards this notion… which is yet another thing I love about the Chinese…

November 12, 2010 @ 3:58 pm | Comment

The turns that conversation on this blog take never fail to blow my mind…

November 12, 2010 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

@John Chan –

“And in Europe . . .”

No. The simple fact is that, here in the UK, you can do these things. Go look up the example of Muslim extremists who protested at the funeral processions for British soldiers killed in Iraq/Afghanistan. Likewise, the Front National in France has also done pretty much exactly this – touting anti-semitic and anti-muslim slogans during a march. Yes, Germany and Austria have specific laws against the display of Nazi regalia without proper historical context, but this is a hold over from the immediate post-WWII period.

So, yes, you can say any bizarre thing you like in the UK, and, as far as I am aware, most of the rest of western and central Europe. No, if you advocate or incite violence, like the demonstrators against the cartoons in Jyllands-Post who carried placards saying “Behead those who insult Islam”, you will not be allowed to do this.

@Michael A. Robinson – The logic is not that anyone who opposes the Chinese government is a hero, the logic is that anyone who willingly remains in China so that they can continue to advocate change and then goes to jail as a result, is an admirable human being. The logic is that the more attention the Chinese government draws to this person through ham-fisted attempts at message-control, the more of a hero they become because the more people learn about them, and this seems valid to me.

November 12, 2010 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

Oh, and as an example of the kind of bizarre anti-Semitic nonsense that can be sprayed all over a major news network without sanction, this rant by Glenn Beck is a sterling example:

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201011090040

November 12, 2010 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

To say that the Jews secretly run the country is right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is one of the most enduring arguments of anti-Semites, aside from being laughably false. Are there some wealthy, powerful, influential Jews? Of course. Do they secretly run governments and make decisions in concert and in secret? No. And the notion that “the Jews” as a monolithic entity pull the strings behind the scenes is pure, unadulterated anti-Semitic horseshit.

Now, if you want to talk about the disproportionate influence of the Israel lobby, that’s a whole different conversation. But they don’t hide their power or make secret decisions. They flaunt it.

November 12, 2010 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

Yes, Kevin these threads go in all directions when the trolls seep in. As a Jew behind the scenes running everything I am cracking down on the idiots. Most of HX’s comments end up on in the trash, as do nearly all of Merp’s. We Jews are efficient, and you never know what we might do next.

Thanks for the link, FOARP. It will mean nothing to the anti-Semites. And for newcomers, this is not something new; HX has been banned in the past for saying incredibly obscene things against Jews and homosexuals. Defend him if you choose.

Sounds harsh to me – you certainly would not draw such a stiff sentence for a similar crim in China. So how would Americans feel if China started to make an issue of this particular case, or started to condemn the US for having an incarceration rate of five or six times that of China’s?

EastisRed, smooth attempt to do the usual, turn the spotlight on the US, in this case pointing out an overly harsh sentence for refusing to obey a law. It happens, sadly. Those men you cite were sentenced according to the guidleines of the law, which doesn’t justify it but it does explain it. Hopefully they’ll be released. But there are boatloads of examples of harsh sentences in the US, especially for things like possessing a little marijuana. Shameful. To your question about how I’d feel if China made an issue of this – I would be totally delighted. Bring it on. And one of the remaining benefits of living in America is that they could demonstrate about it and write about it and fight it. It would be ironic, however, because in China you can receive these harsh sentences, and often far worse, for having committed no discernible crime at all. Simply trying to raise awareness of an injustice can, ironically, land you in jail for years. There is no comparison between a harsh sentencing guideline in the US and the imprisonment of a totally innocent victim of injustice seeking to raise awareness thereof.

November 12, 2010 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

The CCP reaction to the Nobel Prize can only have negative results for
China. No one likes a bully. And while I cannot disagree with the above mentioned “Dalai Lama” effect – I would like to know what the push back against it was. How much business was shifted to places like India that are seen as less politically and militarity belligerent? Also please note the recent huge purchase of US military equipment by India, expanding US relations with Viet Nam, etc.

China is a superpower. These temper tantrums are more appropriate for a third world country.

November 13, 2010 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Last response to HX’s antisemitism. HX: I said the true masters of the US are the jewish ruling elites? Why is this anti-semite? Is it not a compliment to say they are the true master? If I am anti-semite, then I’m anti-CCP too? Because I also said they are the true master of China.

The CCP is an organized, structured body. It meets periodically, it gives interviews (for what that’s worth) and we all know who belongs. To compare this with “the Jewish ruling elite” is absurd and obscene. There is no secret bloc of Jewish elites who run America, but to claim there is forms the foundation of most forms of anti-Semitism, from Charles Lindberg to George Lincoln Rockwell to Ad old Hitler. It was the cornerstone of Nazism. But unlike the case of the CCP, where we actually have a group of elites and we know who they are have a pretty good idea of how they operate, there is absolutely no Jewish equivalent. Those who insist there is such a cabal is reading right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and are invariably anti-Semitic.

November 13, 2010 @ 1:35 am | Comment

I just want to say that I think “A Jew Behind the Scenes” sounds like a great name for a band.

November 13, 2010 @ 5:54 am | Comment

Chip. Not just a band name. Some of the most influencial figures in the history of US popular music were Jewish…..managers, studio heads, talent scouts, musicologists and impresarios, esp in the ’60s. That’s a history yet to be written,and it should be, but to go into detail here would be off topic.

November 13, 2010 @ 7:37 am | Comment

I’m afraid Hong has succeeded in hijacking the thread. The point is not just about whether you can scream something outrageous in public – although that is one measure of the freedoms we are talking about. The point is his equating Liu Xiaobo and Zhang Lianhai with those who scream outrageous things in public. That’s patently unequal. As FOARP rightly points out, the more appropriate parallel -in Zhang’s case – is with Erin Brokovich. Even Liu’s Charter 08 campaign isn’t equivalent to provocative sloganeering in public or hate campaigns. His was a moderate voice of dissent. No way to spin CCP action.
I don’t in the least condone the arrest of Liu – but I ‘get it’ when I think like the CCP. His ideas – and the risk that they would inspire the masses and start a prairie fire – pose a direct challenge to the CCP’s long-term survival. I can understand their paranoia without condoning their actions. But Zhang’s case,to me, is perverse beyond limits. Shame on Hong and others who spin it and hijack threads.

November 13, 2010 @ 7:52 am | Comment

China Watcher, thanks for the injection of sanity. I counsel others not to interact with Hong Xing and I should follow my own advice.

November 13, 2010 @ 8:35 am | Comment

“I don’t in the least condone the arrest of Liu – but I ‘get it’ when I think like the CCP. His ideas – and the risk that they would inspire the masses and start a prairie fire – pose a direct challenge to the CCP’s long-term survival.”

Chinawatcher. Re: the the masses and a prairie fire. Just who are the masses? China is an urban/rural class-differentiated society. They almost live in parallel universes.

Lets look at urban China. Govt officials & SOE employees = investment in the existing order. The disappointed members of the Ant communities = seem like prime material for fenqing nationalism. The urban rest = just want to get by and not go backwards. Migrant labour = viewed as necessary vermin to be used and discarded. LX and similar figures, don’t resonate beyond their own very small circles, even if they have captured western media attention.

There is a multiplicity of interests in urban Chinese cities, and at the moment, short of a major economic puncture, these interests don’t look like fertile territory for wholesale prairie fire political reform, even in the eyes of CCP officialdom.

Minor piecemeal reforms, yes.

Older generations don’t have any progressive democratic expectations, thats for sure. They’re experienced enough change for one lifetime. Educated young urbanites cynically join the Party to enhance career prospects, while the rest indulge in popular trivia and social networking.

When CP state power is seriously challenged and the Party has to fight to maintain its monopoly, the message propagated by LX and his colleagues will be just one voice amongst many competiting for attention, and very likely a very marginal one at that.

November 13, 2010 @ 8:54 am | Comment

@King Tubby – I can’t let mention of famous Jewish record producers go by without talking abou the most famous of all – Brian Epstein, who was born not far from where I grew up, who lived and died tragically, but without whom the Beatles would have never have gone as far as they did.

@Mike Goldthorpe – That story from the Guardian was amazing, particularly this section:

“BBC Worldwide ran into similar problems last year, when Chinese broadcasters halted dealings following Adie’s documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. She had filmed it undercover while on a tourist visa, having previously been refused entry.”

Whenever people try to make out the Chinese security apparatus as being ruthlessly efficient, I think of exactly this kind of incompetence. Literally, some minor Chinese official OK-ed a tourist visa from Kate Adie, a woman who is, with the exception of John Simpson, probably the most famous living British news correspondent.

November 13, 2010 @ 11:16 am | Comment

@King Tubby: “When CP state power is seriously challenged and the Party has to fight to maintain its monopoly, the message propagated by LX and his colleagues will be just one voice amongst many competiting for attention, and very likely a very marginal one at that.”

If Liu Xiaobo’s voice holds no threat whatsoever and is as marginal as you say it is, why arrest him, why give him an exemplary prison sentence – and why kick up a shindig about foreign ambassadors going to the Nobel ceremony? It seems to me that at least the CCP worries his voice may hold prairie fire potential.
In any case, my bigger point was to point to the perverse nature of the sentencing of Zhang.

November 13, 2010 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

@Chinawatcher. Apologies, I took a few liberties with your post to make a point…..prairie fire is wishfull thinking. Im really looking forward to Dec 6th….Beijing has to be called out on this, but lets look at the roll call at presentation time.

Just feel that most of this LX repression is directed at Western HR audiences ie sod off.

@ FOAP. Even more interesting in the history of Western popular music is the Jewish- Black American connection. Lets see where you take this one.

November 13, 2010 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

Chins’s reaction to the Nobel committee is decidedly imperialistic. The Emporer is not amused. Ironic, considering the CCP likes to present itself as anti-imperialistic.

November 14, 2010 @ 2:38 am | Comment

As they say, youth is wasted on the young. I imagine that sentiment must be doubly or triply true when it comes to the colourful assortment of angry youth on display here. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the MO is eerily similar. Inject themselves into a thread about China; start talking about anything but China, and especially about the US instead; then start making irrelevant and illogical comparisons to try to suggest that the CCP is not as ridiculous as it seems.

I agree with Chinawatcher. The CCP’s treatment of Liu is unjustified. But at least from their unique view of the world, it is at least not inconsistent with their glorious track record. But even judged against that dubious track record, their treatment of Zhang is still off-the-charts disgusting. That’s no small feat, and in some way, you’ve got to hand it to the CCP for plumbing new depths.

I did enjoy this line from East: ” The way the Americans run America does not have to be the way Chinese run China”
—absolutely agree. And I’d be most interested in seeing the day that Chinese are permitted to run China, instead of the CCP.

November 14, 2010 @ 3:18 am | Comment

I did enjoy this line from East: ” The way the Americans run America does not have to be the way Chinese run China”
—absolutely agree. And I’d be most interested in seeing the day that Chinese are permitted to run China, instead of the CCP.

I don’t get it. CCP members are not Chinese? They are foreigners parachuted out of the sky to run China? CCP has 60 million members, aren’t they 99% Chinese people, born and raised in China, ate the same rice and breathed the same air? Was Hu Jintao not born out of a regular Chinese family, as was Wen Jiabao? How are Chinese today not running China?

November 15, 2010 @ 3:49 am | Comment

“I don’t get it. CCP members are not Chinese?”
—as comebacks go, this is a rather old and worn one. Yes, CCP members are Chinese. But they don’t represent Chinese other than themselves. Not a complicated point I was making there, but I guess when you’re trying to defend the CCP, you’re left with grasping at straws.

November 15, 2010 @ 1:02 pm | Comment

Julius: “[T]he CCP made them heroes in the eyes of the West. But for the general Chinese public, they are just dogs…No one gives a bleep. At worst, they are traitors in the eyes of the Chinese.”

Not true. Several professor friends of mine at Peking University, along with a number of graduate students in both the history and literature departments, have expressed to me their sympathy for Liu and disgust at the Chinese government’s handling of his case. Most also appear to have read Charter 08. And what about the groups of Chinese supporters who were rounded-up the night Liu was awarded the Peace Prize because they planned modest celebrations in his honor? Likewise, HK and Taiwanese media outlets were largely supportive as well.

This issue is not going to fade away anytime soon. For those who care about freedom of speech in China, Liu’s Nobel will be the gift that keeps on giving. In the months and years to come, every Western leader who visits China will raise the issue of Liu’s imprisonment during talks with Chinese leaders. China’s leadership really has no good options here (though I recommend a quick release as the best way forward). Think about it – a Nobel laureate sits in a Chinese prison for being the first to sign a document that expresses nothing more subversive than the idea that the goverment should honor the constitution. It used to be that defenders of China’s human rights record would say something like, “China’s different from countries like Myanmar. After all, there’s no Chinese equivalent of Aung San Suu Kyi.” Well, now there is. (I’d love to know what the guys in Zhongnanhai are thinking now that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released?)

November 16, 2010 @ 4:29 am | Comment

To Gan Lu,

I was thinking the same thing. On the one hand, Suu Kyi was only under house arrest in her lakefront home, and not in prison. On the other hand, she was under house arrest for the better part of 20 years. So maybe the CCP is thinking: “nah, they’re not comparable at all. Despite the fact that Suu Kyi had a much better view, Liu will be out at least 9 years sooner, so we’re still way better than Myanmar”. I suppose when you’re the CCP, sometimes you have to take comfort in the small victories.

November 16, 2010 @ 8:04 am | Comment

@Gan Lu and S.K.Cheung
Here’s my reading: Liu Xiaobo is unlikely to be released during Hu Jintao’s presidency: but Xi Jinping’s ascension in 2013 could set the stage for that. After all, the arrest and sentencing didn’t happen “under his watch”, which puts a bit of notional distance between him and that act. And as he starts his presidency, and the world is trying to figure out what he stands for, it simultaneously provides the party a chance to score a PR coup and change the narrative about an intolerant China. Some kind of a deal might be worked out to spirit Liu overseas after his release (which could effectively defang him), and – who’s to say – Xi might be hailed as a peacemaker worthy of Nobel Prize himself! I can already see the glowing Time magazine cover story…

November 16, 2010 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

Chinawatcher: “Xi Jinping’s ascension…could set the stage for [Liu’s release.] As he starts his presidency…[it] provides the party a chance to score a PR coup and change the narrative about an intolerant China.”

It’s not quite so easy as that, I’m afraid. Releasing Liu Xiaobo won’t be nearly the PR coup that you describe if he’s not then allowed to travel and speak freely. What if he’s released from prison but kept under house arrest? Then again, what if Liu is allowed to travel and speak publicly? Won’t he then spend the remaining decades of his life traveling the world as a respected Nobel laureate, meeting with the heads of state of western democratic countries, and going on about the importance of political/democratic reform, an independent judiciary, and protected speech and media freedoms?

As I wrote in my earlier comment, there is no face-saving way out of this mess for the regime in Beijing. All the Chinese government can hope for now is to limit the damage. In any case, the damage already done is vast. No wonder they lobbied so hard to prevent Liu from winning.

November 16, 2010 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

To Gan Lu and Chinawatcher:
I also don’t believe Liu will spend anywhere near 11 years in jail. I agree that it may be a nice “gesture” as Xi moves in for him to release Liu. That being said, it would be yet another sad commentary on the “justice system” under the CCP if a guy can be convicted apparently fair-and-square during one regime, then released under another, for no other reason than the changing of the guard. But as you guys say, it’s not like the CCP has any more feet left at which to shoot, so it’s no biggie if she pumps another round into the space formerly occupied by one of her feet.

As for what might happen to Liu after release, who knows. From a domestic consumption/indoctrination standpoint, they might get more mileage in vilifying him if he is abroad, making noise on the speaking circuit. In that sense, he’d be like another Dalai Lama. And we all know how much mileage the CCP has gotten out of the latter.

If the junta in Myanmar gets a Nobel for releasing a Nobel laureate, then I think Xi would be well positioned for scoring one himself. Heck, Hu might even do it himself. I wonder if the CCP will “permit” foreign ambassadors to attend that ceremony in Oslo, should it ever occur.

November 17, 2010 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Gady Epstein has an interesting piece on Xi today. Snip:

But of course we don’t know much about how Xi really thinks because we are not meant to know much. Future top party leaders studiously avoid stepping out of line and into the spotlight, and that is especially true of the rarest ones who make it all the way to the top. The Communist Party, wary of Gorbachevs lurking in the midst, does its institutional best to breed out of its crop of future leaders any genes for risk-taking, independent thinking and other elements of what we might call a personality. They certainly succeeded in the laboratory with Hu, who managed to stay largely anonymous for most of the 10 years he served on the standing committee as the anointed heir.

November 17, 2010 @ 2:02 am | Comment

I would like to see Liu released- the sooner the better. But let’s not project onto Xi the same hopes for enlightenment and change that so many projected onto Hu and Wen for so long.
Chances are that the CCP will just stay like it has, unless it is destroyed. So then even if Liu is released as a gesture (which I can’t expect will actually happen), someone else will take his place in his cell, sooner or later.
In my opinion, it’s good to be an absolute pessimist in matters related to Chinese politics- that way, I’m never disappointed. An additional perk is that I’m also often right…. if that can be a perk for a pessimist.

November 17, 2010 @ 3:31 am | Comment

S.K.: “If the junta in Myanmar gets a Nobel for releasing a Nobel laureate, then I think Xi would be well positioned for scoring one himself.”

I must have woken up in an alternate universe if we’re seriously talking about awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to a group of thugs purely because they’ve finally agreed to release from prison a former Peace Prize winner. (And after only 20 years, no less.) Get real.

If he’s really lucky, perhaps Xi Jinping will be win the World Harmony Prize.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703708404575587223703491284.html

November 17, 2010 @ 4:20 am | Comment

To Gan Lu,

take it easy. I wasn’t seriously talking about anything of the sort, just a supposition in furtherance of Chinawatcher’s point about Xi possibly being in the running for a Nobel at some future time.

November 17, 2010 @ 6:30 am | Comment

I think (hope) it was pretty obvious you were being extremely tongue-in-cheek, SK.

November 17, 2010 @ 9:43 am | Comment

I thought I was, but clearly not enough. I find that my sarcasm/irony is either not well executed, or doesn’t translate well, in print.

November 17, 2010 @ 11:10 am | Comment

S.K.,

In fact, I did think that you were probably (90%) being facetious. Perhaps you missed the irony in my comment?

November 18, 2010 @ 12:00 am | Comment

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/18/liu-xiaobo-nobel-peace-prize-ceremony

“If the medal and prize money are not handed out during the ceremony, it will be the first time since 1936 – when German journalist Carl von Ossietzky was refused permission to leave Nazi Germany.”

Look at that – the only comparison anyone can get to China’s actions is that of Nazi Germany….

November 19, 2010 @ 8:57 am | Comment

Although seeing far too many parallels, I always shy away from comparing China with Nazi Germany. It’s too much of a shock tactic.
But this time with the Peace Prize, they’ve really brought it upon themselves… one really shouldn’t be taking policy lessons from Hitler…

November 19, 2010 @ 10:51 pm | Comment

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