Official mainland Chinese-language mouthpieces have launched a campaign criticising the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding the Peace Prize to prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo on October 8.
Xinhua, the official news agency, attacked the Nobel committee yesterday for ignoring China’s human rights development by honouring “convicted Chinese criminal Liu Xiaobo”.
Previously the campaign was confined to English-language media targeting foreign audiences; most Chinese-language media had been silent about the award, except for short articles quoting statements made by the foreign ministry.
In one of its first commentaries since Liu was honoured, Xinhua, a mouthpiece for Beijing leaders, argued yesterday that the Communist Party had made “unremitting efforts to promote and safeguard human rights”. In an unsigned editorial it asked: “In what ways have Liu’s actions contributed to human rights progress for China’s 1.3 billion people?”
The People’s Daily, published by the party, said yesterday – in one of the first Chinese-language editorials reacting to the prize – that this year’s award strayed from the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s one thing for the Chinese government to attack Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize win in English and to foreign audiences. That’s what they usually do when people bring up human rights. Standard Operating Procedure for the Chinese government is that while they do this internationally, they totally ignore the subject in the Chinese language press, such as it is, and censor references to the controversial subject matter. But in this case, the Chinese government is running an internal, Chinese language campaign against Liu Xiaobo. They are clearly terrified of what support for his Nobel Peace Prize win would do if it was widespread within China. The government is scared of Liu and they’re showing it.