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Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Candidate

Posted October. 04, 2010 11:29,   


Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi is an eyesore for Tehran. When she won the prize for her struggle for democracy and human rights in 2003, the Iranian government experienced agony. Tehran could hardly afford to welcome the award since it clearly understood that the Nobel committee recognized Ebadi to encourage the improvement of human rights and democratization in Iran and the Islamic world. Nevertheless, Iran could also not ignore its first winner of the prestigious award, which was cause for national celebration.

Tehran countered through a passive welcome and continued oppression. It welcomed Ebadi’s honor in the name of the Islamic republic through a government spokesman, and approved a welcoming event of 5,000 people for Ebadi at the airport when she returned after the award ceremony. After a short atmosphere of welcome, Tehran has constantly harassed Ebadi, who is an anti-government activist. Last year, the government took her prize certificate and medal. Under reinforced oppression by the Iranian government, Ebadi has become a fighter who is more aggressively fighting for her nation’s democratization and reform by traveling around the world.

In China, anti-government activist Liu Xiaobo is considered a leading candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the winner of which will be announced Friday. In 2008, he led a signature-collecting campaign for a “2008 Charter,” which demanded revocation of China’s one-party rule by the Communist Party and reform. His campaign was assisted by progressive scholars, lawyers and writers. Liu was sent to prison after receiving an 11-year sentence. If he receives the award, he could emerge as China’s version of Aung San Suu Kyi, the symbol of the democratization movement in Myanmar. As such, Beijing has many reasons to fret. Two other Chinese dissidents, Wei Jingsheng and Fu Jia, have also made the list of Nobel Peace Prize candidates this year again after doing so last year.

Beijing is openly staging a plot to block Liu from receiving the award. Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which assists in the selection of Nobel laureates, recently said he was threatened by the Chinese foreign vice minister, who warned that giving the award to an anti-government activist will be considered an unfriendly act and hurt Oslo-Beijing ties. China’s diplomatic habit of using retaliation or threats when in conflict with another country is even shaking the foundations of the Nobel Prize. If the Nobel institute succumbs to Beijing’s pressure, the Nobel Peace Prize will see its reputation go into free fall.

Editorial Writer Bhang Hyeong-nam (hnbhang@donga.com)