Guest post: China’s sub-rationalists and Liu Xiaobo

The following is a guest post that doesn’t necessarily represent the opinion of The Peking Duck

Sub-rationalists in Communist China cannot face reality of Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010…..

by Biko Lang
Taipei

It would have been nice if Taiwan could have sent a small bipartisan delegation of politicians and academics from both the DPP and the KMT to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo this week. With China putting its head in the sand once again and refusing to face reality, the world is left wondering: just what makes Beijing tick?

As some of the WikiLeaks cables have confirmed what many old China hands always knew, many of Chinese Communist Party’s leaders act in a “sub-rational” manner when confronted with thorny issues like Taiwan’s sovereignty or Liu Xiabo’s Nobel Peace Prize.

In a move that rattled Beijing sub-rationalists again, the U.S. House of Representatives stood up for the values of freedom and democracy last week with a bipartisan resolution honoring imprisoned Chinese activist Liu, Nobel laureate.

Earlier in the year, in February, a group of American lawmakers nominated Liu and two other Chinese activists for Nobel Peace Prize consideration, noting in a public letter that “few governments have the courage to brave the Chinese government’s displeasure and honor them.”

The Nobel committee did honor Liu, and what an honor it is!

While China’s new Nobel laureate remains behinds bars and cannot attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo this weekend, with his wife under house arrest and forbidden to fly to Norway to accept the prestigious award for him, a large part of the world will be celebrating his award. Not present in Oslo, Liu was nevertheless there as a potent symbol. Invisible outside his prison cell, he was very visible in the halls of freedom.

Freedom is borderless, and someday it will come to China, too, That’s exactly what the rulers in Beijing are afraid of.

The announcement earlier in the fall that Liu had bagged a Nobel this year sparked ominous warnings from China that countries who recognized his achievement would have to “take responsibility for the consequences.” Apparently, this was a stern warning from Uncle Hu to the U.S,, France, Germany, Britain, Australia, Japan and, yes, Taiwan.

But the U.S. House resolution pressed forward and lauded Liu for his human-rights activism, honoring him for his “promotion of democratic reform in China, and the courage with which he has bore repeated imprisonment by the government of China.”

Former U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was to attend the Oslo shindig on behalf of her nation, had previously written to Hu Jintao in May 2009 asking for the release of “prisoners of conscience” including Liu Xiaobo.

Pelosi has always had heart. In 1991, a much-younger but always-idealistic Nancy Pelosi had secretly unfurled a banner in Tiananmen Square dedicated “To those who died for democracy [in 1989] in China.”

Liu, it seems, is a hero everywhere but in China.

The U.S. effort to honor Liu and call out China attracted support from both sides of the political aisle in Washington, with both Democrats and Republicans getting behind the bill.

One supporter of the bill said that the bipartisan support reflected the fact that “there’s been a growing understanding among members on both sides of the aisle that this dictatorship is a growing threat to local stability but also to the world. We can’t give the Chinese dictatorship a pass any longer on human-rights abuse,”

So wouldn’t it be nice if Taiwan could have sent a bipartisan delegation of both DPP and KMT leaders to Oslo to honor Liu? Maybe next time.

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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: 8 Comments

A Suggestion for the Chinese Government To Set Up An International Prize called the “Mao Zedong Prize”

The Former USSR had such a prize, called Lenin Peace Prize. Many American civil right activists who were persecuted and murdered by the FBI and CIA were awarded this prize, including Doctor Martin Luther King.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenin_Peace_Prize

This Mao Zedong prize is a prize open to all people of the world, so it’s very possible that most of the time the winners of this prize will be foreigners, not Chinese. Just like the winners of the Nobel Prizes are mostly not Swedish.

Any one recognized to be innovatively and effectively using general theories of Mao Zedong thought, including the Theory of Contradictions, the Theory of Practice, etc, to contribute to human advancement will be considered for the prize. This prize’s money can be from a foundation established by the descedents of Mao Zedong, so it does not necessarily have to be associated with the government. The committee that reviews candidates can also be made up of any Chinese people or even international Maoists.

There will be several prizes:

Mao Zedong Revolutionary Prize: This is a prize awarded to people who achieved great things in the struggle against imperialism and hegemonism, and made great contribution to the economic and sovereign independence of his/her nation. For example, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Chairman Pulachangda of the rebel militant Communist Party of Nepal, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Kim Jung Il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and of course Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden of Afghanistan.

Mao Zedong Medicine Prize: This is a prize awarded to people who strove for the general improvement of public health, including improvements in the treatment/elimination of certain contagious diseases in poor areas, reducing healthcare costs increasing healthcare quality and expanding healthcare access of lower-income individuals. Possible candidate can be Barack Obama of the United States of America.

Mao Zedong Physics Prize: This is a prize awarded to people who utilize the philsoophical aspects of Mao Zedong Thought in the study and research of physics, and make great achievements as a result. It’s not enough to simply be a great physicists, but one must be a great physicist who also integrates Mao Zedong’s philosophy in his research, because physics without using philosophy and politics is mechanical and incomplete. Possible candidate can be Professor He Zhama of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for applying Mao Zedong thought in the study of elementary particles.

Mao Zedong Literature Prize: This is a prize awarded to artists who serve the people using art based on the principles as outlined by Mao Zedong in his Talk in the Yanan Forum, basically the idea that there’s no such thing as art’s for art’s sake, all art is subordinated to political needs. Possible candidates can be progressive artists in the West who produce music, painting, novel, dance, film etc and to liberate the minds of the masses and instigate them to fight against imperialism, and capitalist exploitation.

Mao Zedong Humanitarian Prize: This is a prize awarded to people who are recognized to selflessly serve the masses and have utmost moral integrity. Note, it’s not enough to simply donate a lot of money to charity to be considered for this prize, because humanitarianism takes on many forms, and money is not the most important form. In fact, candidates for this prize do not have to have donated any money to any charity, small people can do good in big ways. Another important condition of this prize is that it is not open to religious figures. If a Christian or Catholic who spends his entire life doing charity work, he still will not be considered.

December 9, 2010 @ 11:56 am | Comment

Dude, China just set up its own version of the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this week, though it’s not named after your hero. And oh, by the way, you’ve posted this exact same comment at least once before, maybe twice. It was as stupid then as it is now.

December 9, 2010 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

UPDATE: an American actor will read Liu’s FINAL STATEMENT out loud at the podium in Oslo during the Nobel ceremony on Dec. 10. How he got the speech smuggled out from China I do not know, but there is a story here.

And this:

A note from a Danish man, who has been barred from entering HK on several occasions due to his threatening “artistic” values, I guess, here is his POV on all this:

Statement about the Nobel Peace Prize by Jens Galschiot and Lasse Galschiot Markus (www.aidoh.dk/june89)

The Nobel Prize and Chinas lack of understanding of the world 2010

On December 10th, for the first time ever, an empty chair will represent the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. But the world’s most populous country has chosen to keep Xiaobo in prison and to make sure that his family does not receive it in his place China has placed his wife under house arrest.

This is a disgraceful way for China to treat its critics. We must demand that China behaves like a decent nation and allows Liu Xiaobo to receive the world’s most prestigious prize.

The economic power and influence of China has become obvious to the world. And the impressive growth rates have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. This is an important and necessary development for the world’s social balance.

But for China to be accepted and respected as a superpower, it requires that the country respects the human rights and provide even basic rights to its own citizens, in form of freedom of speech and an independent judiciary. Food alone is not enough.

Because of Chinas growing economic strength and its emerging status as a superpower, the Western critique of the country has somewhat disappeared. But since the Nobel Committee awarded Liu Xiaobos the Peace Prize 2010 this has changed. The criticism of the regime’s infamous violations of free speech and human rights has once again increased – which is somewhat Chinas own fault.

Chinas attempts to disrupt the award ceremony

- Even before the award nomination, China threatened the government of Norway with economic and diplomatic sanctions. China does not seem to understand that the Nobel committee is independent of the state and that the Norwegian government cannot control the Nobel nominations.

- Later on China has tried to use diplomatic and economic means of pressure to prevent a number of countries from taking part in the award ceremony. This again shows Chinas lack of understanding of how a democracy works. And the pressure has had no effect. Few countries (that are all criticized for violating the human rights) have canceled.

- In another attempt to censor the event, China has placed Liu Xiaobos wife under house arrest. Furthermore a number of human rights advocates have been prevented from leaving the country for fear that they might receive the price in the absence of Liu Xiaobo.

*China should show courage*

In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Google, text messaging, cell phones and wikileaks, even China cannot keep its people in ignorance in the long run. Therefore China might as well provide its citizens with these basic rights.

We urge China to open its eyes to the world anno 2010 in which freedom of speech and information is a matter of course – in China as well. It would be appropriate that China took this first step towards decency by letting Xiaobo and his wife receive the Nobel Prize. This would be suitable for a superpower to come.

Who is Mr Galschiot?

Jens Galschiot is a Danish sculptor. He is known for his major international sculptural manifestations. In 1997 he placed the 8 meter tall sculpture ‘The Pillar of Shame’ in Hong Kong to honor the students from the massacre at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. Galschiot and his son Lasse have often been to Hong Kong to support the democratic development in China. For example during the Olympics, where Galschiots happening TheColorOrange.net caused ‘The Pillar of Shame’ to be painted orange. The last two times Jens Galschiot has visited Hong Kong, he has been refused entry into the country, but his son may still represent him.

December 9, 2010 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

“China just set up its own version of the Nobel Peace Prize”

The “confusian” peace price…

December 9, 2010 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

Here is the actor follow-up news: ”An actor presenter will read from Liu’s writings near the empty chair that seems …”

Liu will make what he calls his “last statement” entitled: “I have no enemies” at the Dec. 10 award ceremony, although he will be unable to attend in person, an overseas friend of Liu said over the weekend.

Xu Wenli, an exiled Chinese dissident, said that an American actor will read the statement for the prisoner of conscience.

December 9, 2010 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Liu will say: among other things, via the actor reading his words:

“What I have done is innocent. I have no complaints, even though I have been accused [by the state]. Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights; it is the basis of human nature and the mother of truth. Suppressing freedom of speech is tantamount to trampling on human rights, stifling human nature and oppressing the truth.
Hatred erodes a person’s wisdom and conscience, and hostility poisons the spirit. Once a cruel, life-or-death struggle has been fanned, a society’s spirit of tolerance and human nature will be destroyed ..”

December 9, 2010 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

The hero of European liberation, Lech Walesa, should go and accept the Nobel prize on Liu’s behalf.

December 9, 2010 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

Liv Ullman is Norwegian. Why would an American actor be asked to read Liu’s statement? That WOULD look like a small conspiracy.

December 11, 2010 @ 1:20 am | Comment

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