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2010年10月12日 (火)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 9
EDITORIAL: Nobel Peace Prize

A strong message has been delivered to China's political leaders, who have shown little, if any, respect for democracy or human rights while their country has been accomplishing amazing economic growth.

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese writer and pro-democracy activist.

Since he was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Liu has been consistently and passionately fighting for democracy in China. Liu has expressed his opinions in writing and spoken up without using violence or other radical means.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee highly praised his peaceful struggle.

At the end of 2008, the year of the Beijing Summer Olympics, Liu drafted "Charter 08," a manifesto calling for fundamental reforms for democracy that would ultimately end the Communist Party's monopoly on power. This and his criticism against the party and its leaders earned him an 11-year jail sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."

Liu is now in prison in northeast Liaoning province.

It is not clear whether Liu even knows yet that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Many Chinese citizens probably are still unaware of the fact because of the media blackout imposed by the authorities.

But the news will spread, sooner or later. And it will provide a big morale boost to other Chinese activists who have been struggling, along with Liu, to give their country democratic freedoms.

Beijing warned the Nobel committee that awarding the peace prize to a dissident like Liu would be regarded as an unfriendly act, according to the committee.

If so, China again acted in a high-handed manner that apparently reflects the growing sentiment that it is now a major power fueled by its rapid economic growth and military buildup.

We applaud the Nobel committee for not giving in to pressure from China.

The committee chastised the Chinese authorities for violating international conventions approving peaceful expressions of political beliefs to which Beijing is a party, as well as the country's own constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and other human rights. It pointed out that China now must accept greater responsibility.

China's behavior concerning the collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands and the actions it took against Vietnamese fishermen operating near disputed islands in the South China Sea have alarmed the international community and strengthened China's image as a country willing to ignore rules for the sake of its interests.

As economic interdependence among countries has grown, the international community has been inclined to overlook China's trampling on universal values.

The United States and Europe, which traditionally place great importance on human rights, have also been willing to turn a blind eye to Beijing's poor human rights record to keep relations with the rising economic power on friendly terms. China also faced no harsh criticism at the recent Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels.

The Nobel committee's decision to award the prestigious honor to a Chinese dissident should be taken seriously as a warning, especially to industrial nations.

China's Foreign Ministry has criticized the committee's move, saying Liu violated Chinese law and his actions run counter to the spirit of the prize. The ministry also indicated that the decision would adversely affect ties with Norway.

There are concerns about the possibility that Beijing may tighten its crackdown on democracy advocates and other activists in China.

Taking a hard-line posture both at home and abroad, however, will not serve China's interests.

Chinese leaders must realize now that their country will never be recognized as a legitimate world power unless they start respecting universal values.


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