China’s Nobel bullying has failed


by Rumbold
20th November, 2010 at 9:46 pm    

After the Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel peace prize, China reacted harshly. Mr Liu was jailed for eleven years, and his wife and other activists found themselves persecuted (and in some cases jailed too). China also tried to discourage other countries from sending their ambassadors the Nobel prize ceremony. Previously countries have been wary of upsetting China by discussing human rights, not wanting to disrupt what they see as important trade deals. Surprising though, this time the threats were ignored. Only a handful of countries have decided not to attend the event, and the list, which reads like a George Galloway world tour, contains no countries with a healthy respect for democracy and the rule of law anyway.


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Filed in: China,Current affairs,The World






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  7. Sam

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  1. douglas clark — on 20th November, 2010 at 10:33 pm  

    Rumbold,

    A George Galloway world tour! I love it!

  2. adam — on 20th November, 2010 at 10:36 pm  

    lol
    Just waiting for Douglas Clark/Damon/Harith to blame this action by China on the Muslims…..

  3. douglas clark — on 20th November, 2010 at 11:40 pm  

    adam,

    keep waiting till hell freezes over, why don’t you?

  4. Niaz — on 21st November, 2010 at 2:09 am  

    Harith is too busy slagging off Pickled Politics on certain other sites….
    http://www.spittoon.org/archives/8157

  5. dsdsd — on 21st November, 2010 at 3:45 am  

    Oh shut up you idiotic stooge – China has been growing by ignoring what the moronic and racist west says and it’s as poweful as the US now because of it!

  6. Rumbold — on 21st November, 2010 at 2:51 pm  

    Haha Douglas.

    Adam:

    Eh?

  7. johng — on 21st November, 2010 at 4:57 pm  

    which reads like a George Galloway world tour

    Iraq?

  8. Rumbold — on 21st November, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

    Johng:

    Well, back when he used to receive help from Saddam it would have been. Perhaps there are some Baathists he still can visit.

  9. Arif — on 21st November, 2010 at 5:57 pm  

    This is clearly about geopolitics, not morality. And yet there is a moral stand that can be taken by countries willing to risk loss of investment, financial support, a powerful potential ally and a huge market. Also countries (like Vietnam) who are stung by other actions of the Nobel Committee).

    Also interesting would be the profile of the countries whose ambassadors are not conveniently out of country at the time, and their relations with China, and how China deals with them in future. And what that says about what China feels it has to lose.

    We get a glimpse at who the clients of China are in the new order and who are too powerful or are clients of others.

    And in the midst of this, whether China learns anything about the effective and ineffective ways of marginalising its human rights defenders, and what this means for them. How much his adds to Liu Xiaobo’s safety and the support people can give to human rights across borders.

    It is likely that little will change (I think Nobel Prizes rarely actually change anything). And the lesson will be that while you can’t eat human rights, your economic development can won by grinding the bones of innocents. That is the worldview I think we need to fight in every country. Human rights abuses somehow have to be made costly to all those who might otherwise benefit from them.

  10. Rumbold — on 21st November, 2010 at 6:34 pm  

    Arif:

    Human rights abuses somehow have to be made costly to all those who might otherwise benefit from them.

    I agree with that. The question is how? Countries aren’t willing to endanger trade deals (arguably correctly), and moral pressure doesn’t work on regimes which have no morals.

  11. Arif — on 21st November, 2010 at 7:06 pm  

    It is a hard one, Rumbold. As consumers, we can make some kind of stand by what we buy, I guess, and that is helped if we make a bigger deal of human rights as a corporate social responsibility issue.

    Most of the work pushing this sort of thing comes from supporting NGOs who lobby and campaign, raise awareness and do research and all the other stuff we ought to do as individuals if we had lots of time, resources, knowledge and processing power!

    Boycotting China as a whole is not what I mean (unless people like Liu Xiaobo argue that this is what it will take), but showing where our consumer preferences lie and to do so in the voting booth as well.

    Basically every time we justify a trade off between human rights and economic development we are contributing to the marginalisation of people like Liu Xiaobo, and this includes making a noise whenever States, the World Bank, the WTO and other institutions try to do just that.

  12. Tory — on 21st November, 2010 at 7:40 pm  

    This is quite an interesting post actually. Its important not to overstate the influence of the P.R.C on such matters.

  13. Rumbold — on 21st November, 2010 at 8:15 pm  

    Arif:

    Yes, I think there is something in that. If voters express a strong desire for an ethical foreign policy, then it becomes more important for politicians to be seen to be doing something. And consumers should vote with their wallets (which is the cornerstone of the free market). NGOs, as you say, probably have the best chance of actually changing something and highlighting abuses.

  14. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 4:13 pm  

    Now that the prize has been given in absentia….

    And the Chinese Government calls it a farce because of the numbers of ambassadors they could bribe or bully into not attending (17 out of 65: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11879731)

    Two of these countries give political reasons for their boycott (Venezuala and Cuba) which are similar to China’s argument that Alfred Nobel’s intention was to foster peace between nations, not achieve a particular (western defined) political structure within them. One (Serbia) has had its foreign minister sacked for having their ambassador absent.

    Russia, while denying it was a political boycott apparently made a similar point by asking how the US would react to Julian Assange getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

    That last is an interesting point.

    The Nobel Committee made it explicit that Liu Xiaobo is being awarded the prize because of his activities to promote human rights as he (and implicitly the Nobel Committee) saw best within China.

    Julian Assange makes his own case that Wikileaks promotes human rights and democracy by undermining conspiracies among elites. If the Nobel Committee bought his arguments, how would other Governments react?

    I think maybe Liu Xiaobo deserves a human rights prize, Julian Assange deserves an open government prize and the peace prize should be more clearly aimed at recognising efforts to reduce militarism in global affairs. Not that China was too happy with the Dalai Lama getting the peace prize for his search for nonviolent relations with an occupying power either! Nor am I too pleased with Kissinger having been given one.

    Maybe the prize reflects nothing but the perspective of a particular Norwegian Committee? Will someone blow the whistle to Wikileaks?

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