OSLO — Imprisoned in China and with close family members forbidden to leave the country, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, an empty chair representing his absence at the prize ceremony here.
For the first time in 75 years, no representative of the winner was allowed to make the trip to receive the peace medal, a diploma and the $1.5 million check that comes with it.
You would think the prior Nobel Peace Prize winner would make a moral statement by attending the ceremony in person in a show of solidarity.
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. But instead of traveling to Oslo to receive the award Liu will spend the day in jail, where he is serving eleven years on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for his part in the writing of Charter ’08, a document that called for greater freedom of expression, human rights and free elections in China.
. Beijing boasted Tuesday that most countries would stay away from attending the ceremony. In fact, only the 65 countries with embassies in Norway were invited, and 44 of those had accepted, according to the Nobel Prize Committee.
In the natural sciences, the Nobel Prize committees have been awarded to people who have done meaningful work that changed the study of science; however, in literature and the “peace” categories, they have shown themselves totally irrelevant.
As Mr. Vargas Llosa wrote in his 2001 essay about literature, “Nothing better protects a human being against the stupidity of prejudice, racism, religious or political sectarianism, and exclusivist nationalism than this truth that invariably appears in great literature: that men and women of all nations and places are essentially equal.”
This year’s citation for Vargas Llosa says that he got the prize for “his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.” This points to a focus on individual rights which is central both to simple humanitarianism and also — though European Leftists would disagree — market-led neoliberalism.
In making this choice, for this reason, the Academy seems to have done just what is expected of it, which is not to go by rumours and prejudices, but to look at the work itself. And as an example of why Vargas Llosa is fascinating, there is not just all his considerable body of work over the years, but also his most recent book, published this year, which has not been translated from Spanish, but whose subject matter signals its exceptional interest.
The selection of Liu Xiabo for Peace Prize is even more striking: China is furious, making this onerous statement,
In recent years, relations between China and Norway have maintained favorable development, which is in the basic interests of the two countries and their people. The Nobel committee’s award to Liu Xiaobo is completely contrary to the objective of the Nobel Peace Prize, and will bring harm to the China-Norway relationship.
Text-messaging on mobile phones is not immune from censors, either. A Shanghai-based netizen, @littley, tweeted his unfortunate experience: “My SIM card just got de-activated, turning my iPhone to an iPod touch after I texted my dad about Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize.”
From an email by the Independent Institute, where Alvaro Vargas Llosa is senior fellow,
Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Prosperity, who has authored such notable works as Liberty for Latin America, which obtained the Sir Anthony Fisher International Memorial Award for its contribution to the cause of freedom in 2006, expressed the following sentiments:
The Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to my father, Mario VargasLLosa, is great news for those of us who value freedom. His workexplores theoppressive structures of power and the plight of the individual whorebels against them, [and} their impact hasgiven some comfort, for decades, to those who struggle againstauthoritarian regimes. Among the moving messages he and the familyhave received since the announcement are hundreds of letters of hopefrom Cubans and Venezuelans who see in him a symbol of what they standfor. The cause of liberty in the Western Hemisphere has good reason torejoice.
The Independent Institute and its staff would like to join Alvaro in his praise, and extend their sincere appreciation to Mario for his tremendous contributions to the advancement of freedom in Latin America and across the world.
Liu Xiaobo, an impassioned literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate repeatedly jailed by the Chinese government for his activism, has won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
Mr. Liu, 54, perhaps China’s best known dissident, is serving an 11-year term on subversion charges, in a cell 300 miles from Beijing.
He is one of three people to have received the prize while incarcerated by their own governments, after the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in 1991, and the German pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky, in 1935.
By awarding the prize to Mr. Liu, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has provided an unmistakable rebuke to Beijing’s authoritarian leaders at a time of growing intolerance for domestic dissent and a spreading unease internationally over the muscular diplomacy that has accompanied China’s economic rise.
I applaud the Peace Committee’s decision; let’s hope they continue on this track.
According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable.
“Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king,” said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. “This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy,” she told VG.
I like that: a progressive populist defending the monarch.
Anyhoo, like the fox with healthy self-esteem who said “Jumping after those grapes was a great workout even when I couldn’t reach any,”
The Norwegian Nobel committee, which awards the peace prize, dismissed the criticism. “We always knew that there were too many events in the programme. Obama has to govern the US and we were told early on that he could not commit to all of them,” said Geir Lundestad, secretary of the committee.
Rest assured the committee members know that Obama respects them in the morning.
The question they should be asking is not will he, but how; according to the article, Obama
Declined an invitation to lunch with King Harald V
Will not attend the Peace Center exhibit in his honor, even when Prize winners traditionally open the exhibitions about their work that accompany the Nobel festivities.
won’t attend concert in his honor in Oslo on Friday
That’s right, Obama’s not showing up to lunch with the king, to inaugurate an exhibit, a concert, all events about himself. Must be modesty that prevents him?
That may have something to do with Obama’s uncharacteristic shunning of the press. Whereas other prize winners have viewed the standard Nobel Peace Prize CNN interview as an opportunity to address the world for a full hour, Obama seems unwilling to answer any questions at all. There will be no press conference, just a statement from the president.
What’s come from Obama holding his tongue while Iranian demonstrators were being shot and from his recognizing the legitimacy of a thug regime illegitimately returned to power in a fraudulent election? Iran cracks down even more mercilessly on the opposition and races ahead with its nuclear program.
What’s come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking human rights off the table on a visit to China and from Obama’s shameful refusal to see the Dalai Lama (a postponement, we are told)? China hasn’t moved an inch on North Korea, Iran or human rights. Indeed, it’s pushing with Russia to dethrone the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
What’s come from the new-respect-for-Muslims Cairo speech and the unprecedented pressure on Israel for a total settlement freeze? “The settlement push backfired,” reports The Post, and Arab-Israeli peace prospects have “arguably regressed.”
In other words, Obama’s Middle East gambit, apparently inspired by those known Middle East policy wonks Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, has failed. Spectacularly so. Putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel and sneering at the Bush team for being too close to Israel didn’t really get the Obami anywhere, did it? The Post is candid that the fixation on settlements “backfired.” As virtually every pro-Israel conservative commentator predicted, “It raised hopes among Palestinians, who began to demand nothing less than a full freeze, and led to severe tensions in U.S.-Israeli relations.”
And all that ingratiating with the “Muslim World” in Cairo? Not much was gained; in fact, the parties are more estranged than ever. Our relations with Israel have not been this strained since . . . well, ever . . . and the administration’s credibility is arguably worse than any of its recent predecessors.
And what’s come from Obama’s single most dramatic foreign policy stroke — the sudden abrogation of missile defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the East Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.
Hillary went to Russia and she didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt; she certainly didn’t get any support from Russia towards sanctions against Iran:
It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved — to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? “We are not at that point yet,” she averred. “That is not a conclusion we have reached . . . it is our preference that Iran work with the international community.”
Big Guy is actually thinking that now that he’s won the Nobel, he might take a call from the Dalai Lama now that theDalai is his almost his equal. I say “almost” because, the Lama won his for bringing world attention to the plight of the Tibetan people. That’s not quite as great an effort as the one Big Guy exerted to draw world attention to himself.