China’s Substitute Nobel a Disaster


China sought to take a strong stand against uppity Western nations with
its alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, a protest of the prize
committee’s choosing to honor Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently
incarcerated to opening urging his country to adopt political reforms.
But in addition to looking cruel, and, some say, paranoid for not allowing even Liu’s wife to
attend the Nobel ceremony, China looked ridiculous for its “disastrous”
Confucious Peace Prize, Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating writes. Why? For one, the honoree didn’t even show up.

Former
Taiwanese Vice President Lien Chan was supposed to take the honor, but
he was absent, since no one thought to notify him of it, Keating writes.
The prize committee instead opted to hand the trophy to a girl it
called an “angel of peace.” The debacle remains somewhat mysterious,
Keating says. “The existence of the prize was first announced three
weeks ago, though bizarrely, the organizers also claimed they had been
preparing for it since 1988 and had been seeking ‘Confucian wisdom.’ The
organizers at first claimed to have worked closely with the Chinese
culture ministry, but the government claims to have nothing to do with
the prize and it has received little coverage in state media.” 

The panel would not say the Confucious prize had anything to do with Liu; however, its official announcement “did take some gratuitous shots at puny little Norway.” Here are some reactions to this latest and oddest episode in the whole China-Nobel saga:

  • Only Making Liu More Famous, Daniel Halper
    argues at The Weekly Standard. “China’s puerile reaction underscores
    the importance of Xiabo receiving the award. With the award he’ll get
    tomorrow, Xiabo will have a louder megaphone to advance the cause of
    human rights and democracy.”
  • Is This a Sign of China’s Strength or Weakness? Kevin Drum
    asks at Mother Jones. “My first instinct is weakness: no country with
    any real confidence in itself or its future would overreact this
    insanely. But then I think back to other rising powers and I’m not so
    sure. This kind of furious jingoism is actually pretty common among
    countries feeling their oats, isn’t it? … Overall, I think the Chinese
    have been playing their hand badly over the past few years, and it’s
    going to bite them pretty hard the first time their economy starts to
    slow down a bit, which is almost inevitable sometime over the next
    decade or two.”
  • Calls for a Diplomatic Snubbing, Conn Carroll
    argues at the American Enterprise Institute. “Next month General
    Secretary of the Communist Party Hu Jintao is coming to the United
    States, and a full ‘state visit’ treatment is expected, including a
    joint reviewing of U.S. troops and the usual ceremonial pomp and
    diplomatic protocol.” But, he says, “China does not merit a state visit not only due
    to its continued poor record on human rights … but because of its continued
    extraterritorial claims and the lack of responsible action as a
    stakeholder on such security issues as North Korea and Iran.”
  • U.S. Shouldn’t Feel Too High and Mighty Here  Mike Masnick‘s comments at TechDirt on the WikiLeaks situation don’t mention the Nobel controversy, add an interesting counterpoint to the debate:

We’ve pointed out the general hypocrisy of US politicians
calling for an end to internet censorship, while threatening Wikileaks
at the same time. If you want to see some real irony, check out the fact
that Senator Joe Lieberman, who has been the loudest voice in pushing
for censorship of Wikileaks and of others in the press, just so happens
to be a member of the ‘Global Internet Freedom Caucus.’ Yeah, except
here in the US. … What’s really stunning, beyond just the sheer
uselessness and impotence of the US government’s response to Wikileaks,
is the fact that it’s inevitably destroying any moral high ground on
claims of freedom and support of free speech we might have once had.

  • Yes, China, of Course They Were Trying to Embarrass You  “Beijing has protested bitterly that the committee’s
    decision was politically motivated,” The Telegraph notes. “Indeed it was,” they judge, “just as the Soviet Union was in 1975 when the prize
    went to Andrei Sakharov, the dissident scientist. This year’s recipient
    is certainly a more fitting one than last year’s, when, farcically, it
    was awarded to Barack Obama.  … We can
    only hope that when China reflects upon this rather shameful episode, it
    will understand that accepting criticism is the lot of the superpower,
    just as America has found.”
  • China Got 19 Countries to Protest the Prize, The Telegraph adds. They include Afghanistan, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq,
    Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia,
    Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam. “Few on this
    list, it may be noticed, are fully functioning democracies and many are
    supposed friends of the West and recipients of its largesse.”

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