I am a regular reader of TOC. I felt compelled to write the following response after reading the justification given by the Nobel Committee which was posted on the website a few days ago. [See here: “Why we gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel”]
I support the Chinese government’s stance. I think they have every right to protest. Such a decision (to award Liu) is inherently political since it is made by a very exclusive group of politicians that presumably share very similar outlooks on what “fundamental human rights” should be.
How can such notions of human rights be considered universal if they are only championed by the West? Fundamentally, I do not see a difference between the Pentagon’s condemnation of the Wikileaks releases and China’s censorship of “sensitive” materials such as Charter 08. It shows that there is always a limit to the freedom of information when an issue is deemed subversive to certain national interests. Since it is reasonable to expect that what constitutes national interests is different for every country, then there is no basis for such “universal” standards to be applied.
I am not against human rights. I am against the imposition of the standards of a small minority to the world, possibly with political agendas.
If we take an extreme and perverse example, suppose China decided to give an award to Osama Bin Laden for his promotion of democracy in the world by giving a voice to the impoverished masses who have suffered under decades of American intervention in the Middle East. Would this be acceptable?
No one in the right frame of mind would even consider that, much less seriously make such a suggestion. Which is exactly the point that the West needs to stop placing itself on a pedestal and consider the diversity of values in the world (especially in the area of political rights) if we want to seriously talk about any form of universality.
I know it is not much, but I would really appreciate it if you would take the time to consider the article for publishing.
James Min Zhang