China Is Confused by the Concept of "Dissident"

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
Oct. 8 2010 11:55 AM

China Is Confused by the Concept of "Dissident"

So the Nobel Committee is going to hand its Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo , if it can find him, which it can't, because China has him locked away in a prison somewhere. Liu has been there since the end of 2008, when he and a group of others produced a petition titled Charter 08 , calling for China to turn away from "an authoritarian political way of life" and to embrace democratic reforms and human rights.

China reportedly warned the Nobel Committee not to honor Liu. Part of the reason that people like Liu are in prison is China's growing sense of immunity to foreign criticism, even as it becomes more and more engaged with the rest of the world.

Advertisement

It's not surprising that the People's Republic would feel that way. Right before the Charter 08 movement, during the Beijing Olympics, the International Olympic Committee cheerfully acquiesced as China set up special Olympic protest zones and then arrested people who applied to use them .

China has encouraged the liberalized West to treat its internal affairs with caution and respect. China must be allowed to reform at its own natural pace, so as not to jeopardize its growth and security. The implicit message is that the harder outside reformers may push, the more defensive or repressive China's reaction may be.

But the Nobel Committee is declaring that sensitive approach to be a dead end. Liu is already in prison. What else can China do?

China's Foreign Ministry is furious about the committee's decision, the New York Times reports:

"The Nobel Committee giving the Peace Prize to such a person runs completely contrary to the aims of the prize," Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site. "Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law."

This is the closed loop of China's logic on the subject of its would-be reformers. The Nobel Committee was already aware that peacefully criticizing the government of China was considered a violation of Chinese law. That's the reason it gave Liu the prize.  

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.