Norwegian salmon rots in Chinese warehouses

The Chinese government, one year later, is still simply furious with Norway over awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to NED puppet and criminal Liu Xiaobo. I can’t help but be struck by the maturity and diplomacy with which they are expressing their outrage.

Norway has reported China to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in an escalation of a row about fish which has pitted one of Europe’s smallest countries against the biggest nation in the world.

The Chinese imposed additional import controls on Norwegian salmon last year in apparent retribution for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in Oslo to the Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo. The result has been a collapse in sales of salmon to China, and the sight and smell of North Sea fish rotting in Chinese warehouses. The Norwegian Foreign Office said overall trade with China had grown by 46 per cent over the past six months. But sales of fresh salmon, meanwhile, have collapsed 61.8 per cent.

Officials said they would not speculate as to why Beijing had ignored trade rules relating to Norwegian salmon. But it seems clear that the threat from the Chinese embassy in Oslo last year, of “damage” to diplomatic ties should the Nobel Prize be handed to “a criminal” has focused on a narrow, iconic target.

And China wonders why the world sees it as a prickly, pouting child. Unfortunately, due to the country’s economic heft, the world always has to walk around China on eggshells lest the CCP have its feelings hurt.

Via CDT Be sure to click that link and read about Liu’s life one year after his arrest. And then, to top it off, read this.


So much for the “Confucius Peace Prize”

What if they gave an award and the recipient didn’t show up? As we all know, that’s what happened last year when the Nobel committee set up an empty chair for the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, infuriating the Chinese government, which saw the committee’s choice of Liu as an act of provocation, something that caused China a lot of hurt feelings.

What followed next was a vintage only-in-China fiasco, in which a group in China quickly created the “Confucius Peace Prize,” presented as China’s version of the Nobel, which they awarded to former Taiwan vice-president Lien Chan, who didn’t want it. Once more, there was “an empty seat,” and China once again had its feelings hurt by the ridicule this created.

Now it seems the ill-conceived Confucius Peace Prize is in jeopardy.

The Confucius Peace Prize, which started last year and was widely heralded as China’s Nobel Peace Prize, faces the prospect of cancellation this year, as an official group reportedly behind it has denied any ties with the award.

When the prize was announced on Sept 17 last year, one of the organizers was Wang Shenggui, a division chief for the Beijing-based Association of Chinese Local Art.

However, according to a recent statement, the group said Wang was acting outside of his official capacity, and that plans to start the award were never discussed with association heads, who answer directly to the Ministry of Culture.

“Wang didn’t tell us anything about the prize,” said Zhang Houbang, the association’s standing vice-president.

The group only became aware of it through media reports, he said, adding that the ministry called him on Sept 19 to demand an explanation.

Zhang stressed that the association’s focus is limited to promoting Chinese art, and that Wang’s involvement in the prize was not allowed.

Wang was subsequently dismissed for violating the rules, while his division, which focused on the preservation of traditional culture, was scrapped, said the statement.

This is what we call a train wreck. Everything the CCP has done to suppress the Liu Xiaobo story has only succeeded in keeping it front and center. The Confucius prize only exists, of course, because of Liu, and any coverage it gets dredges up the embarrassment China suffered with the empty seat in Oslo. Now once again China faces smirks as the world witnesses the internal disarray that seems to spell the end of the Confucius Peace Prize. And once again, the story of Liu’s imprisonment and his wining the Nobel prize gets churned up all over again.

I’m not making any comment for or against Liu; we’ve discussed that many times here. This is a story of incompetency and gob-smackingly bad public relations. How could the Confucius Peace Prize have been trumpeted with such fanfare last year if it was never blessed by the government? Something doesn’t add up, and the only thing that emerges as crystal clear is the government’s complete mishandling of something they should have known would result in international ridicule. Well done.


Is there a Western conspiracy against China?

My former employer The Global Times wants to know.

Is there a “plot” among the Western countries against China? In answer to this, few Chinese people would give a definitive answer. However, actions taken by the West have forced Chinese citizens to speculate about this matter.

Tomorrow will see the ceremony for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which has been awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who has devoted himself to subverting the government. Furthermore, at the invitation of the Nobel committee, several dissidents who are hostile toward the Chinese government, will converge in Oslo from around the world.

The modern world is much like a sports arena, in which China has passed the first round and qualified for the final. As a newcomer, China may not be well prepared, with sloppy technique, lacking audience support and seeming like a stranger to the surroundings. China has no other choice but to fight on in the competition, strictly following the rules set by others.

Suddenly, boos and catcalls resound from the stands, from the Westerners in the pricey seats. Worse than this, the referee blows the whistle against China, amid jeers from cheerleaders and media, relishing exposing China’s “scandals.” What can the Chinese team do?

…The West has shown great creativity in conspiring against China. With its ideology remaining dominant at present, the West has not ceased harassing China with all kinds of tricks like the Nobel Peace Prize.

It might be advisable for China not to buy the conspiracy theory, for communication would be much smoother if given the benefit of the doubt. However, China has to maintain its independence in thinking and ensure its discerning ability is not swayed by outside powers. As long as China can keep its independent judgment, its security will be ensured even when faced with a conspiracy.

Love the sports metaphor.

This is one kooky editorial. It’s loaded with gems that are typical of the angrier commenters here: the West is intentionally and strategically seeking to hobble China; the West is self-righteous and hypocritical and sanctimonious, going after a benevolent, peace-loving China while engulfing the world in chaos; China must gird its loins and fight against those powers that seek to harm it. These powers wish only bad for China. These powers hate China.

Despite a series of spats and misunderstandings between China and the West, globalization is forcing the country to adapt to co-existing with the “noble countries” in the West. China has to act discreetly, obeying rules set by the West and trying not to disturb their interests when seeking to safeguard its own welfare. Meanwhile, these “noble countries” launch broadsides at China’s actions, even where no wrongdoing exists.

Do they really not get that in the eyes of civilized nations the idea of jailing a dissident for 11 years for seeking democratic reforms is unpleasant? That the civilized nations react the same way to political repression in Myanmar and Zimbabwe and other nations?

One thing I liked about Global Times was their tendency to balance the more hysterical editorials and columns with more sensible voices. I remember editing a particularly vitriolic column by a former general that all but advocated war over the South China Sea. This was tempered by a far less psychotic response that noted the weakness of China’s navy and its utter unpreparedness for war. It urged a more moderate approach, like negotiating. I mention this because I’m hoping they’ll follow this pattern now. Editorials like this, with no balancing voice, will make China appear kukoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Via Shanghaiist, which has its own excellent response to the insanity.


China’s rival Peace Prize

These guys are geniuses.


Wikileaks’ latest: China’s resistance to US pressure over Liu Xiaobo

Wikileaks is the gift that keeps on giving. The latest revelation is about how Chinese diplomats reacted when the US expressed its displeasure over China’s treatment of Liu.

It was just before Christmas 2009, and Ding Xiaowen was not happy.

The United States ambassador had just written China’s foreign minister expressing concern for Liu Xiaobo, the Beijing intellectual imprisoned a year earlier for drafting a pro-democracy manifesto. Now Mr. Ding, a deputy in the ministry’s American section, was reading the riot act to an American attaché.

Mr. Ding said he would try to avoid “becoming emotional,” according to a readout on the meeting that was among thousands of leaked State Department cables released this month. Then he said that a “strongly dissatisfied” China firmly opposed the views of the American ambassador, Jon Huntsman, and that Washington must “cease using human rights as an excuse to ‘meddle’ in China’s internal affairs.”

On Friday, exactly one year after Mr. Huntsman wrote his protest, Mr. Liu, now serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion, will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony that he is unable to attend. And if anything is clear, it is that China no longer resists becoming emotional.

In the two months since the Nobel committee honored Mr. Liu, China has waged an extraordinary and unprecedented campaign, domestically and internationally, to discredit the award and to dissuade other governments from endorsing it.

According to the cables, one of Ding’s arguments was that “the most fundamental human rights were to food and shelter,” an area in which China has made “huge progress.” I don’t disagree with him, but also don’t believe that one necessarily precludes the other, i.e., food needn’t come at the expense of human rights. However, Ding’s comment squarely represents the attitude of most Chinese people, one that I fully understand.

I never blogged a lot about Liu or Charter 8 because I thought it was a story of relatively little consequence for China, and the reaction to the petition in China seemed tepid at best. It was the CCP’s handling of his arrest and prickly response to his winning the Nobel prize that got me blogging. I still see it as a PR blunder that damages a government thirsting for soft power.


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

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.


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.


Why political reform in China is inevitable

Tom Friedman, one of my least favorite columnists, has a worthy enough (if typically simplistic) column today about the need for China to embrace political change. It all boils down to economics. The country simply can’t prosper until it’s instituted meaningful political reform.

Can China continue to prosper, while censoring the Internet, controlling its news media and insisting on a monopoly of political power by the Chinese Communist Party?

I don’t think so. To be sure, China has thrived up to now — impressively — by permitting its people only economic liberty. This may have been the sole way to quickly take a vast country of 1.3 billion people from massive poverty to much-improved standards of living, basic education for all, modernized infrastructure and even riches for some urbanites.

But the Nobel committee did China a favor in sending the tacit message with its peace prize: Don’t get too cocky and think that you have rewritten the laws of gravity. The “Beijing Consensus,” of economic liberty without political liberty, may have been a great strategy for takeoff, but it won’t get you to the next level. So this might actually be a good time for Beijing to engage peaceful democracy advocates like Liu [Xiaobo], who is now serving an 11-year sentence, or the 23 retired Chinese Communist Party officials who last week published an open letter challenging the government to improve speech and press freedoms.

As China ages, Friedman contends, it has to move from low-wage manufacturing jobs to more “knowledge- and service-based jobs.” Has to. So you have the usual conflict: a government that wants to control everything and shape its people’s thinking, countered by market forces – China’s growth can only go so far without a problem-solving, innovative workforce.

Dovetailing with this column today is this new piece by my friend and fellow blogger Paul Denlinger on why Wen Jiaobao is thinking along the same lines, and why he will push for more political reform. Denlinger argues that you can’t balance so much social change with so little political change. I’ll just snip two of his seven reasons as to why this is so.

4. China’s president, Hu Jintao, is obsessed with social harmony and stability as his legacy, but Wen thinks that this is a pipe dream. Wen thinks that social change is happening faster than the party, government leadership understand.

5. Wen feels that the current leadership continues to think that economic growth is the answer to China’s problems when past growth rates are no longer possible.

This topic seems to be taking on a life of its own. I think that Liu Xiaobo’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize will continue to fan the flames, and that those who said Oslo’s choice would have no ramifications in China are dead wrong. China’s fate depends on more liberty. Wen knows it, Liu knows it, I know it. Manufacturing can’t and won’t soar forever. What’s next? China has to prepare for the inevitable.


Communist Party elders call for free speech. Seriously.

I don’t expect this to get very far, but you really do have to read it.

On October 11, 23 Chinese Communist Party elders known for their pro-reform positions, including Mao Zedong’s former secretary Li Rui (李锐) and former People’s Daily editor-in-chief Hu Jiwei (胡绩伟), submitted an open letter to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, formally China’s highest state body, calling for an end to restrictions on expression in China.

The letter urges the Communist Party to abolish censorship and realize citizens’ right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Seizing on the opportunity afforded by the awarding of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) with the Nobel Peace Prize last week, the letter refers explicitly to prior statements on reform and free speech made by both President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) and Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝).

You can read the entire translated letter at the link above. I think this takes the wind out of the sails of those who’re been chirping that Liu Xiaobo’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize wouldn’t have any effect in China. These people are almost as annoying as those chirping that Liu Xiaobo is an American agent because he’s supported by the NED, a claim that is patently absurd. Just because someone gives you some money doesn’t make you their spy or agent. Lots of US NGO’s give money to the Dalai Lama, and he is still an outspoken and self-avowed Marxist. The fenqing have their long knives out for Liu and will grasp at any straws they can. For some interesting debates about this see the comments to this post and this post. Our friend pugster is really banging the NED drum on both threads, and probably others as well. 50 mao here, 50 mao there.

Meanwhile, I strongly recommend that no one hold their breath while waiting for censorship in China to go away. But it’s encouraging to see Liu’s prize embolden others who want to make China and its government freer, more transparent and more accountable.