Jailed Chinese Dissident Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Well, this certainly makes more sense than last year.  Liu Xiaobo, 54, a jailed pro-democracy activist who was involved in the Tianamen Square demonstrations in 1989 and was incarcerated again in December of 2008 when a reformist working paper circulated on the internet, won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in China.

Liu, who is currently in prison, is most likely unaware that he’s won.  He is entitled to a prize that’s in excess of a million dollars, a gold Nobel medallion and a diploma.  If or how he will be able to collect the prizes is unclear.  The Chinese government, predictably, responded in furor, calling him a ‘criminal’ and threatening that the move will downgrade Norwegian-Chinese relations.

I’ve heard a comparison between democratic India and communist China.  India is like a two lane highway, that’s pockmarked with potholes and clogged with traffic jams most of the time.  China, on the other hand, is six lanes, going in either direction, with lots of traffic, zipping along.  The difference: China’s highway leads over a cliff, and India’s becomes more like China’s off in the distance.  This comparison is designed to convey the point that while India may have slower growth, more corruption, etc., because of the fact it’s a thriving democracy, these problems should largely work themselves out.  China, on the other hand, with its breakneck speed, has a highly uncertain future, because it’s still a dictatorship.  China’s becoming ever more affluent.  Historically, rich people don’t like dictatorships.  That it will attempt to throw off the shackles of the Communist party isn’t in question, but when and how it will happen.  But if the Communists in China doesn’t eventually agree to democratization, that could lead to a massive amount of instability in the long run.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Liu Xiabo.  He has withstood decades of abuse at the hands of the authorities for doing what’s morally correct, even though it’s cost him everything.  I can only imagine the beatings that he’s going to get today due to this award, and he won’t even be aware that he’s the most famous person in the world for a day.  Many, many congratulations to Mr. Liu.


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