Monday, July 17, 2017

The two sides of Liu Xiaobo

Edited version first appeared in Asia Times.

China’s Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo has succumbed to liver cancer. Lionized in the West, his passing was little noted in China. Just a smidgen of reflection would explain the dichotomy.

Liu did not win the Nobel Prize for physics or economics or any of the others administered by the Nobel committee in Stockholm. He won the Peace Prize administered out of Oslo Norway.

The Nobel committee for the peace prize is appointed by the Norwegian parliament and has been responsible for the most politicized honor among the Nobel prizes.

Since there hasn’t been a whole lot of peace around the world, it’s understandable that there were more years when a peace prize was not awarded than for any of the other awards. Some of the prize recipients were matters for debate.

The peace prize has been the most burdened in controversy. For example, some say the committee gave the peace prize to the Dalai Lama in part to atone for repeatedly passing over Mahatma Gandhi, universally recognized as the most deserving to not have received the honor.

The committee also rushed headlong in the opposite direction and couldn’t wait to see what Barrack Obama was going to do as president of the U.S. They awarded Obama with the Peace Prize shortly after he was elected president just to flaunt Norwegian indignation at the war mongering policies of George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor.

Alas for the prestige and credibility of the committee and the Peace Prize, Obama would be hard-pressed to point to any achievements toward peace in his two terms as the U.S. president.

If it’s easy to become a Peace Prize laureate, it’s hardly surprising that it’s a low bar for anyone to become a peace prize nominee. All it takes is to possess credentials with the proper slant.

The late Harry Wu (Hongda) is a good example. The aftermath of his death has revealed him to be a thief and philanderer. He stole the money set aside for Chinese human rights activists and he was a serial groper of women.

Wu rose to fame when he was arrested as he tried to enter China under disguise. After his much publicized release, he trotted around the world as a self-proclaimed defender of human rights in China. His anti-China criticism and attendant publicity got him nominated for the peace prize.

Wu and his ilk have learned that there is a career in paimapi, a Chinese saying that literally means petting the horse’s rump or in a cruder version, inducing equine flatulence. It’s a Chinese expression for obsequious flatter.

The profit is in petting the westerner’s mapi, by expressing admiration for the western concept for democracy and as if only through democracy can one achieve human rights and dignity.

The important difference between Wu and Liu is that while Wu remained in the safety of the protective West, Liu went back to China from a teaching position in the U.S. to advocate the overthrow of China’s CCP.

Liu even expressed the idea that 300 years as a colony of a western power would have done China wonders and enabled China to catch up to the standards of western democracy. That was paimapi of the highest order. No wonder the West adored him.

Conveniently overlooked by Liu is that in nearly the 3 decades since Liu went back to China, China has become the second or largest economy in the world, depending on the yardstick used in measuring China’s economy.

According to Pew’s regular polls of the sentiments of the people in China, their satisfaction and approval rating of China’s one party rule and CCP has hovered around 80% in most recent years.

Thus we have a situation where western countries that boast of popular approval ratings under 50% hectoring China to reform. They encourage China to change their system of government so that the popularity of their government can be more like the West.

May Liu Xiaobo rest in peace. Difficult to know how long he will be remembered in the West. He’s already a forgotten man in China.

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