It didn’t take long.
As expected (Liu Xiaobo Wins Nobel Peace Prize) the Chinese government went off the deep end in criticizing the decision of the Nobel Prize Committee to award the Peace Prize to dissident and free speech advocate Liu Xiaobo.
The Chinese foreign ministry called the move “an obscenity against the peace prize.” They added that giving the prize Liu “runs completely contrary to the aims of the prize.”
Beijing also called into question the credibility of the winner. The ministry said that Liu “is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law.”
The only problem is that the law he violated is in direct conflict with Chinese constitution that guarantees freedom of speech. And it seems to go against the position of Premier Wen Jibao, who said that freedom of expression is vital to the future development of China.
Reuters reports that Beijing residents said CNN and BBC broadcasts were cut when the prize was mentioned. Chinese publications and broadcast outlets so far have not yet run the story.
There were also reports that mobile phone services were blocking text messages. No word yet on how hard the censors came down on Internet connections.
Besides the predictable howling against the committee, Beijing said the move would damage relations between Norway and China.
The only thing missing — so far — is a repeat of the usual line that the move has “insulted all Chinese people.” This line has been a standard one over the years. It was used a few times prior to the Nobel Committee announcement but by low-level functionaries.
The New York Times reported that in the announcement, the committee commended China for its economic growth, that lifted millions of people out of poverty.
But it chastised the government for ignoring basic rights guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and the international conventions to which Beijing is a party. “In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China’s citizens,” the committee said, adding, “China’s new status must entail increased responsibility.”
For the Chinese government and party leadership, rewarding anyone who challenges the supremacy of the Communist Party is the same as encouraging “destabilizing forces” to operate in China. Clearly the leadership believes that only its carefully spoon-fed and sanitized version of domestic and international events can prevent the Chinese people from turning on each other and plunging the country into chaos.
And I have to wonder, why they have such a low opinion of their own people?
Stories about the announcement and China’s reaction:
- Reuters: China livid as dissident Liu wins Nobel Peace Prize
- New York Times:Nobel Peace Prize Given to Jailed Chinese Dissident
CNN/Fareed Zakaria interview with Premier Wen: