News Coverage About Dai Qing

Liu’s peace prize must not lie gathering dust

(November 11, 2010) An Editorial from the New Straits Times calling on China to relax its opposition to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo.

Although it is now more than a month since the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese government is continuing to tighten surveillance of the imprisoned writer’s supporters in the country and to exert pressure on governments in Europe to distance themselves from the committee.

China reacted initially by terming the award an “obscenity” and demanded an apology. It accused Europeans generally of using the Nobel Prize as part of a plot to contain China.

It has also accused the West of trying to force its values on China. Now, however, the focus is on the scheduled formal ceremony for the conferment of the award in Oslo on Dec 10, at a grand ceremony in the presence of the King and Queen of Norway.

It is unclear who will receive the award on Liu’s behalf. Needless to say, the intended recipient will be kept in prison and will not be allowed to travel to Norway.

It is also highly unlikely that his wife, Liu Xia, will be allowed to do that either. In fact, she was placed under house arrest as soon as his award was announced on Oct 8.

Liu’s wife has made public a list of about 140 names of his friends whom she has asked to receive the award on her husband’s behalf.

Many of them, too, including dissidents, academics and lawyers, have been put under house arrest or are under very tight surveillance as part of the crackdown initiated by the government in the wake of the Nobel award. It is doubtful that they will be allowed to leave the country.

However, there are one or two dissidents who are currently overseas, and who may, therefore, be able to fly to Oslo.

One is the writer Dai Qing, a leading dissident who is on Liu Xia’s list and who is currently in Canada on a speaking tour.

Dai, who was jailed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square military crackdown, issued a statement in which she compared the Chinese government’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s award to that of “the Nazi authorities and the Burmese military regime”, who were “also displeased when German journalist Carl von Ossietzky and Burmese social activist Aung San Suu Kyi won the peace prize”.

After calling on Beijing to allow Liu’s wife or friends to receive the prize in his stead, she declared that if no one in China is allowed to go to Oslo, then “I will go there to fulfil my duty to my friend”.

And so, it seems, Liu’s peace prize will not lie uncollected gathering dust. But, of course, Dai is right. There is no reason why Beijing should not allow Liu’s wife or one of his close friends to receive the award for him.

No doubt, China does not like being compared to the Nazis. But then, as Dai rightly asked: “Will the Chinese authorities temporarily relax the controls on Xiaobo — as Hitler and Goring ultimately did in the von Ossietzky case by releasing him from a concentration camp? Or will the Chinese authorities close one eye, watching his relatives go to the ceremony — as the Burmese junta did on Suu Kyi’s case?”

But, it seems, the Chinese government will prove itself more unyielding than the Nazis or the Myanmar military regime.

In addition to putting pressure on Liu’s family and friends, it is now also putting pressure on all governments, especially those in Europe, to boycott the Dec 10 ceremonies, as the Los Angeles Times has reported.

According to the newspaper, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has sent diplomatic notes to European ambassadors posted in Oslo regarding the Nobel Peace Prize saying “we strongly hope that your country… will refrain from attending any activity directed against China”.

Since in the view of European countries the Nobel Prize was in no way directed against China, there is no reason for them to skip the ceremonies.

But China itself will certainly not attend. The Chinese embassy has received an invitation sent by the Norwegian Nobel Committee but it returned the invitation in its original envelope unopened.

This is childish behaviour. The world will judge how China will act as a superpower by its behaviour today.

Telling the Europeans to skip the Nobel ceremony can only increase resentment against China.

This is a time for China to grow and husband its soft power, not to be petty and fritter it away on hopeless and unwise causes.

Read the original article here.

November 11, 2010, Editorial, New Straits Times

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