As Editor, it is a pleasure to welcome Yingying Jiang from Hong Kong, and present her first contribution to Human Rights Angle. -lesoltis
Every year as the Nobel Prize Committee prepares to announce its decision, the human rights community in China holds its breath and awaits in suppressed excitement, hoping that this time, the Committee will finally give the prize to Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), China’s most prominent dissident and human rights activist. The Committee announces its decision on October 8th this year.
Liu Xiaobo is currently sitting in a jail cell serving an 11-year sentence in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province. The crime? For drafting and distributing Charter 08, a manifesto signed by 10,000 people calling for bold reforms promoting democracy and human rights in China. This is not the first time Mr. Liu has been in jail, however. After playing a leading role in the pro-democracy movement in 1989, which later suffered a bloody government crackdown, he was sent to a labor camp for three years in 1996.
No Chinese citizen has ever been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As China is on the rise to become the world’s superpower, what exactly will be its effect on the world? In recent years, it has been in disputes over territory and resources with almost every country it borders, the latest being a row with Japan over a group of deserted islands in the East China Sea. As China becomes more powerful, it will expand its sphere of influence. The problem is not about raising a fuss with one’s neighbors, it is about a government’s encouragement of nationalism and its victimhood among ordinary people, in order to bolster its grip of power over the nation. This does not bode well for the rest of the world. But there are critical voices in China, questioning the government’s treatment of minorities and its human rights records. But what becomes of those voices? They’re censored and those who dare to utter them, such as Liu Xiaobo, are punished and carted off to prison.
Peace and human rights are intimately linked. Instead of “containing China,” other nations must commit themselves to firmly standing up for those Chinese citizens like Liu Xiaobo who brave imprisonment and torture to speak out for human rights. So, Nobel Peace Prize Committee, are you ready?