And the prize goes to… an empty chair!

Liu Xiaobo, a chinese pro-democracy dissident, in prison for at least another decade, was awarded the Noble peace prize this year! Even when US president Barack Obama got awarded last year, the media made less a story out of it. This time, the media is the smaller problem though. The award got very much politicized and therefore raises the question: why?

The committee in Oslo did provoke the Chinese officials by awarding someone who got arrested for opposing the regime in China – maybe not the smartest move. Still, what is the whole drama now about? Why do states declare publicly that they stay away from the award ceremony? Too afraid of China? Too dependent on China’s economy?

Serbia for example. I am not an expert on the relation between China and Serbia but in my point of view Serbia would do better by keeping the European Union as a closer ally than the Chinese regime – simply due to geographic proximity and hence less barricades to trade. The Serbian government firstly announced that it will officially stay away from the ceremony, though due to pressure from its own people, the government sent a semi-official to represent the country at the presentation.

I think therefore Serbia is a good example on what this is all about. As Human Rights Minister Svetozar Ciplic states: “We had to find a compromise solution.” So, maintaining the relationship with the EU and still not angering China – Serbia got the “best” out of it.

Are we looking again on a perfect example of power politics or is it just the West’s interest in spreading democracy all around the globe!? Power Politics is simple to understand – do something to maintain your own power, no matter whom you provoke or no matter if right or wrong! Therefore, yes, it is another example of the game of power whereas the importance and extent of this case is very much questionable! Serbia can afford to go along with the economic power house China in this case without hurting itself! It is very doubtful if the EU or US will punish those who were absent from the award presentation (otherwise they have to punish the award winner as well – a little sarcasm here)!

Regarding human rights, it is definitely to follow if China is simply locking away its opponents and if so, the West has to act and do something to China (but please don’t ask me what)! And given the media attention it will be even less likely that Liu Xiaobo will get free anytime soon. China losing its face? No way!! What can the West do? Nothing?! What has the West done to free Aung San Suu Kyi? Maintaining political pressure/economic sanctions resulting in basically nothing (I don’t think she got free because of any sanctions)! The economic sanctions had a bad and bigger impact on the population so sanctions are therefore a very questionable tool anyway!

And as we all know, the Chinese economy dragging the world economy out of a misery, it will be basically impossible to impose sanctions towards the Chinese regime therefore let us try again to shift the focus away from another minor political farce and focus on things that have to be tackled as soon as possible. Powers should focus on really important things like reaching an agreement on climate change or others. The Climate Conference in Cancun (COP16) got by far less media attention than the Noble Peace Prize although this is affecting many more people (http://english.aljazeera.net/video/americas/2010/12/201012571518512523.html).

I am not saying that I want to see Liu Xiaobo staying in prison! Not at all, I hope he will be free as soon as possible and I hope he will keep on fighting for democracy (although to some extent, economically, the system China maintains is working)! But, I am just saying that there are other topics to discuss these days so let’s don’t blow up the whole thing to much and try to get the media focusing on more important topics!

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