News / Asia

Analysts: Dissident's Nobel Prize a 'Running Sore' for China

Plainclothes policemen (L and R) keep watch outside the house of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in Beijing on 08 Dec 2010
Plainclothes policemen (L and R) keep watch outside the house of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in Beijing on 08 Dec 2010

China's government is attempting to limit the impact of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Analysts and rights activists say that although the immediate affect of the award on political reform in China will likely be minimal, Liu receiving the peace prize shows that China's tightly controlled society is continually pushing for change.  

China has warned countries not to attend Friday's ceremony in Oslo - criticizing the Nobel Committee, calling the award "profane" and accusing the international community of meddling in China's internal affairs.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of the PEN American Center, a writers' group that promotes freedom of expression, spoke about Liu at a recent U.S. congressional committee hearing - sponsored by the Congressional Executive Commission on China.  He said that despite Beijing's reaction, Liu's treatment is an international matter.

"By detaining Liu Xiaobo for more than a year and then by convicting and sentencing him to 11 years in prison - in clear violation of his most fundamental internationally recognized rights - the People's Republic of China itself has guaranteed that his case is not and cannot be a purely internal affair," said Appiah.

Pro-democracy protesters with banners bearing photos of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo march to the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong, 05 Dec 2010
Pro-democracy protesters with banners bearing photos of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo march to the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong, 05 Dec 2010

In China, the government has limited access to information about Liu Xiaobo receiving of the Nobel Prize, blocking Internet access to overseas articles about the award and disseminating information critical of Liu.

Researcher Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch says that the information most Chinese have received about Liu has been negative and that few people know of him. Speaking at the same congressional committee hearing, Kine said Beijing's focus on the Nobel laureate will draw more attention to Liu and the ideas he has advocated.

"What the Liu Xiaobo Nobel has created for the Chinese government is a 'running sore' that's going to continue as long as he is imprisoned. As long as there is a news story that refers to imprisoned Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. This is a huge embarrassment for the Chinese government," Kine said.

Kine says he is optimistic that the award will generate more discussion about how similar cases should be handled in the future.  Soon after Liu's award was announced, 23 senior retired former communist party officials and intellectuals issued a public letter calling Liu a "splendid choice" and urging the Chinese government to end its censorship of free speech.

"This is the beginning of a trend that we are going to see. Obviously, there is going to be discussion between moderates and the people who really fought for and won in terms of punishing Liu Xiaobo," he added.

Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for what the Chinese government says is subversion of the state. He co-authored an online petition that called for democratic reform in China.

Analysts note that as Chinese authorities control access to the Internet, the medium is being used to organize protests and inform the public about corruption and local grievances.

Elizabeth Economy with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York told the congressional committee that China's leaders fear a loss of control over access to information.

"The Internet is a political organizing force. It can educate as in the case of the online discussion with the Dalai Lama on Twitter," Economy said. "It can help bring more than 7,000 people to protest in Xiamen. It can bring pressure to bear on authorities for unjust decisions by a swell of outrage on the Internet.  In a sense, every Chinese citizen with a cell phone and Internet access becomes a journalist."

Political scientist Bruce Gilley of Portland State University agrees.

"It's precisely because they have lost control of the ability to manage political speech and information that we see this stepped up effort to plug the holes in the dam. But we have to focus on what is happening to the dam rather than the holes they are trying to plug," he said.

Gilley told the panel that when the United States thinks about the policies it adopts with respect to China, it should carefully consider the impact of those policies on domestic reforms.

"Just as we in some ways mistook what is happening in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, we are in danger of mistaking what is happening in China today," Gilley said.  

As for Liu Xiaobo's fate, analysts say that Chinese leaders eventually will be forced to release him into foreign exile under the weight of international pressure.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs