Some news links for background:
NYT article announcing the prize: http://nyti.ms/cveoxL
NYT article with more analysis: http://nyti.ms/d1W5sQ
A western expat’s analysis of NYT analysis: http://bit.ly/bYxC1o
I don’t usually follow Chinese politics (for better or for worse), opting instead for cultural and gossipy news aka ChinaSMACK. But the Nobel Peace Prize is big news, and it’s hard not to hear about it. When rumors ran high in the weeks leading up to the prize announcement, I had wondered if the prize committee would really stick one to China and give Liu Xiaobo the Peace Prize.
On the one hand, it seemed like both sides should know that it would result in a stalemate. The West has seen that China doesn’t like to have its arms twisted and prefers to do things at its own pace. China knows that it is walking on eggshells when it comes to issues of human rights and political reform but is unable to let go of its pride and lose face by giving any ground on its otherwise hardline view of “human rights is a domestic issue.”
On the other hand, I didn’t really think the Nobel committee would be able to swallow their pride and step aside on this issue and hand China a “get out of jail free” card. That would be allowing politics to dictate their actions, and that runs entirely counter to the whole spirit of the Peace Prize. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised that the committee actually went through with the decision.
A week later, we’ve still got a stalemate. China doesn’t want a precedent of international accolades interfering with “domestic” affairs, but they also can’t take any drastic measures either, so they’ve essentially done nothing. How long will this stalemate last? The two previous Nobel Peace Laureates imprisoned at the time of their prize announcements stayed imprisoned. Andrei Sakharo (1975) continued to be monitored by the Soviet Union well into the 80s, and Aung San Suu Kyi (1991) is still under house arrest in Burma.
This doesn’t bode well for Liu Xiaobo. But the counter argument is that the prize accomplished the purpose of highlighting Liu’s work and thrust China’s human rights issues into an even bigger spotlight.