A Worthy Nobel Laureate *updated- Obama Calls on China to Release Xiaobo*
Much to the eternal annoyance of China, the Chinese democracy and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, currently imprisoned by the Communist Chinese regime, has won the Nobel Prize. This is long overdue and it’s an important recognition that despite China’s economic growth, at the end of the day it remains an oppressive, anti-democracy dictatorship which treats political dissidents in a manner similar to that of Iran and other repressive authoritarian governments.
Unfortunately, the U.S. responds very differently to China’s human rights abuses than it does to those perpetrated by Iran and other countries which we have on our black list. Hopefully Secretary Clinton, who has long history of supporting human rights, will issue a strong public statement congratulating Liu Xiaobo and renewing U.S. calls for his release. It will not be enough to send out a written statement by P.J. Crowley or, God forbid, to not acknowledge the Nobel announcement at all. I can’t help but think there is a lot of hand-wringing going on at both the White House and the State Department right now, when in fact, they should be glad that someone as worthy as Liu Xiaobo has been given the Nobel Prize for standing up for the very principles of democracy, freedom of speech and human rights which the United States promotes and supports worldwide.
If the U.S. wants to maintain any sense of credibility when it criticizes human rights abuses by regimes in places like Iran and Cuba, then there needs to be a little bit more consistency. And also a little less concern about “offending” China’s delicate sensibilities because that simply makes us look not only hypocritical, but weak.
Update:I forgot to add this. For those not familiar with Liu Xiaobo and why he was arrested by the government, this is a decent summary.
UPDATE II: President Obama has spoken out and called on China to release Xiaobo. I’m glad he did the right thing:
President Barack Obama called on China Friday to quickly release imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, lauding the dissident as an “eloquent and courageous” supporter of human rights and democracy.
The comments are likely to further rattle China at a time when the United States is stepping up pressure on Beijing over a currency policy Washington blames for job losses.
Obama’s statement, released hours after Liu was awarded the prize, reflected the sensitivity of U.S.-Chinese relations.
Obama praised China’s “dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.” But, he added, “this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected.”