China is unhappy at being the front-runner for receiving this years Nobel Peace Prize, scheduled for October 8th.
The speculated recipient is jailed Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in Liaoning province, China for “inciting subversion of state power”. Liu Xiaobo seems to be the favorite among 237 nominees to bag the most political of Nobel prizes.
The prognosis has clearly not gone down well in Zhongnanhai, the power center in Beijing, which is only now grappling with online public opinion. Proud to be a communist state, satisfied with its achievements of overpowering democratic rule to fuel growth and development for all at a blistering rate, and witnessing the slow and steady growth democracy serves in its neighbour India, China is definitely not keen to uphold the laurels democracy and Liu Xiaobo stand for.
While China which currently practices politics with socialist characteristics, it is by no means democratic. The Communist Party exists as a single party system with no contenders and doesn’t hold elections.
Knowing it will be the worst public relations disaster for country since 1989 when the Nobel Peace Prize was conferred on the Dalai Lama, China has already expressed its dissatisfaction of the 91st Nobel award to Norway, and has warned of “negative consequences” for bilateral relations between China and Norway. The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that pressure was being exerted on the Nobel Committee on the grounds that Liu had never promoted “peace between peoples, international friendship and disarmament.” According to a ministry spokeswoman, awarding Liu would be contrary to the ideals of the prize’s founder, Alfred Nobel.
If conferred the award for peace, Liu Xiaobo will be hailed a hero by the international community and China’s atrocious human rights violations which have until now been swept under its glorious economic rise will come back to the fore. Experts also believe China will lose face to the world – a serious action of defamation, if Liu Xiaobo brings home a second peace prize following the Dalai Lama. Its 20 years of stunning economic growth and subsequent political ascent, hailed as a leader internationally and the clout that it enjoys on global high tables will be demolished, in a way mocking Beijing’s belief that it is the British Empire of the 1940s, which might have had a hand in denying Mahatma Gandhi the Peace Prize despite his nomination on five occasions.
So who is Liu Xiaobo? An intellectual and human rights activist who has traveled the world, Liu is rare among Chinese government critics for being well-known not just among the dissident movement but among the wider public too. The 54-year old literary critic is famed in China for having co-authored Charter 08 an echo of Charter 77, the famous call for human rights in then-Czechoslovakia that led to the 1989 Velvet Revolution that swept away the communist regime. The charter for China calls for more freedoms and an end to the Communist Party’s political dominance. “The democratization of Chinese politics can be put off no longer,” it says.