Friday, October 08, 2010

Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波): China's Nobel Laureate!

Hong Kong is all abuzz over the announcement that Liu Xiaobo has won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Rumours abounded, but few believed it would actually happen. Then a few weeks ago when the Chinese government warned the Nobel Committee not to give Liu the prize "because he had violated Chinese law" you could smell the fear rising off their scabby hides and it raised hopes around the world. It also likely encouraged the Norwegians to go right ahead and do what they dare not do.

Liu was sentenced for "subversion" and jailed for 11 years on Christmas Day 2009, a day chosen by the authorities because they hoped the West would be preoccupied with other matters. It had much to do with his leading role in promoting "Charter 08," a movement advocating human rights and democratic reforms in China. It was modeled on Soviet-era Czechoslovakia's "Charter 77" in which Václav Havel took part. Havel has been among those who have protested Liu's sentence.

This is absolutely glorious news. Anything that makes Beijing livid has to be celebrated and Hong Kong is the only place in China where a body can righteously scream it from the rooftops. And we will. Liu is now the first Chinese citizen to ever win a Nobel Peace prize. The Dalai Lama won in 1989, but is classified as a refugee and the 2000 winner, Gao Xingjian, won for literature and is a French citizen.

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