On Guardian article on Xiaobo

Posted on December 15, 2010


Comment on this article http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/15/nobel-winner-liu-xiaobo-chinese-dissident

The most important issue addressed by the nobel prize is freedom of speech. Xiaobo has stood up for freedom of speech in a country where doing so can get you horribly tortured.

As for the article itself – beware cherry picking views and quotes, as you can make anyone seem to say anything by taking things out of context, especially after translation. Similarly painting people as black-or-white “champion of war, not peace” is just ridiculously simplistic analysis – I’m sure for instance the Chinese government aren’t in a hurry to start any wars, doesn’t make them nice people. I personally am for non-violence, but that doesn’t mean its impossible to make a case for wars on dictatorships – its just not that simple.

In short, this article leans heavily on the side of anti-Xiaobo rhetoric rather than critical analysis. I’m sure its possible to make a supported criticism of this man, but this article isn’t it.

The nobel prize is vital at this time when every power is kowtowing to China, much in the way they (used) to do it to the US, and in the process throwing all human rights considerations out of the window. The US has done terrible things, but that doesn’t make it somehow ok for China to get away with worse ones.

Lets remember a few things: Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang are heavily repressed, largely under a media blackout, and anyone there calling for autonomy risks torture and execution. Dissidents across china risk being sent for “re-education”. Industrial products for export are made in forced labor camps. History is something decided by the Party. Censorship is routine. And so on.

But most importantly, pointing out any of these things gets you branded by the Chinese government as evil and imperialist (the most ironic accusation, given that the occupation of Tibet is justified by saying it was always part of the Chinese Empire).
Similarly pointing out the failings of western governments (which is what people do at this point) doesn’t get you out of any of this – America could be run by Beelzebub himself and still none of China’s abuses would be ok. (just because you’re critical of China, doesn’t mean you’re not critical of everyone else, a point which seems to get forgotten too often).

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