Foreign Affairs

‘Virtual war’ over Nobel Peace Prize


10 Oct, New York

On contrary of its world-wide appreciation for the aggressive growth despite the difficult times in global economy, China has increasingly been the vortex of its indifference towards fundamental human rights. The latest instance of its fury towards the decision of awarding Nobel peace prize to its dissident Liu Xiaobo has conspicuously established the continuous apathy of Chinese establishment regarding human rights.

A 54-year old literary critic Liu was awarded Nobel Peace Prize this year in honor of his daring advocacy of human rights and peaceful democratic system in Communist China. He was convicted on subversion charges after he co-authored Charter-08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China.

Though the international community has stepped up their pressure upon China for the respect of human rights of its citizens, this time in particular, calling upon to release Liu, China seems to be vocal in opposing these efforts. Now there are also the reports that Liu’s wife has been kept under house arrest and deprived of communication with media and people from other quarters.

In the same line, China has glaringly lamented the decision of Nobel Committee describing it as “against the core principles of the Nobel Prize”. It seems that Norway has become the first to face ‘concrete retaliation’ of Chinese establishment. Apparently dissatisfied with Norway over Nobel Prize, there are reports of China abruptly calling off the pre-scheduled meeting with visiting Norwegian Fisheries Minister in Shanghai. It is also disclosed China has been continuously pressurizing Norwegian government not to award Liu and has been warning that it could thwart the bilateral relations since Chinese government learned Liu being listed as the possible awardee of Nobel Prize.

Though based in Norway, the Nobel committee is independent of the Norwegian government. So it is not logical for a country like China to render warning to a particular country regarding the prize even though it has right to express its reservation. This could push China itself in difficult situation and its already tainted reputation regarding human rights could worsen.

UN speaks up

Though in a unclear connotation, Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki Moon has dared to speak up about Nobel Peace Prize amid the strong criticism from powerful China. Ban hasn’t clearly welcomed the decision but has said that it is a recognition of the growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world. Though Ban has tried to be balanced in his statement, it can be extrapolated that this will be enough for his Asian folks from China to get irritated with him personally which may possibly result in China’s thumbs down if Ban wants to seek second term.

The statement attributable to his spokesperson reads, “Over the past years, China has achieved remarkable economic advances, lifted millions out of poverty, broadened political participation and steadily joined the international mainstream in its adherence to recognized human rights instruments and practices.” He has also expressed his sincere hope that any differences on this decision will not detract from advancement of the human rights agenda globally or the high prestige and inspirational power of the Award.


Urgency to end ‘double standards’


While continuously criticizing China about its treatment towards human rights activists as well as the efforts demanding political reform and democratic change, it doesn’t mean that the policy of the countries which seem to be vocal in this front are good enough. It has been urgent that all countries including the world powers must end double standards regarding human rights. Many believe that and many times it is apparent also, most of the countries especially those which are deemed as world powers are supporting the undemocratic governments if they move in accordance with their vested interests. There are many examples. Let’s mention a few here.

The United States, which has been established as unprecedented ‘Nation -Figure’ for its democratic system and liberal society as well as the internal and external policies, before waging war against Iraq a few years ago supported autocrat Saddam Hussein to fight against Iran. The Al-Qaeda fighters whom the US itself supposedly provided assistance to fight against Soviet Union during Cold War, have been the greatest headache these days.

Hence, it has been urgent for all the countries to stand united and try to bury the gap between our words and doings regarding the respect for human rights.