Thu, Oct 28, 2010 - Page 8 News List

China’s oligarchy versus Liu Xiaobo

By Sushil Seth

Much has been written about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his advocacy of democracy in China. We know that he is China’s leading political dissident and was one of the authors of Charter 08, a call for political reform and democratization.

However, the more one knows about him the more one understands why China’s oligarchy is so deadset against him.

First, the charter succinctly exposes the contradictions of the existing political system — a cruel Orwellian joke on its people.

“The political reality, which is plain for anyone to see, is that China has many laws, but no rule of law; it has a Constitution, but no constitutional government,” the charter says

Not surprisingly, “The stultifying results are endemic official corruption … weak human rights, decay in public ethics, crony capitalism, growing inequality between rich and poor, pillage of the natural environment … and the exacerbation of a long list of social conflicts,” it says.

Which leads to the logical conclusion that: “The decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional.”

Charter 08 then goes on to propose the enactment of a new Constitution based on the democratic principles of separation of legislative, judicial and executive power as well as enshrining a guarantee of human rights, freedom of expression and a whole lot more.

Such a prescriptive charter would be the death knell of the political monopoly of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). No wonder, China’s rulers went ballistic against Norway and the committee that awarded the prize, while at home they rounded up activists.

Beijing has stopped dialogue with Norway on furthering trade relations and demanded an apology from the Nobel committee for awarding the peace prize to a “criminal,” thus showing disrespect for China’s legal system.

These days China is big on demanding apologies. Japan too was asked to apologize over the detention of the captain of a Chinese fishing trawler that collided with Japanese coast guard boats in the East China Sea, but that is another story.

However, Liu is one of those rare people who will not back down from fighting for his beliefs. The party would like to see the back of him if he were to leave China for comfortable pastures abroad, where he has had academic stints in prestigious universities in the US and elsewhere.

However, he keeps coming back to pursue his passion and commitment to change his homeland. Though his current 11-year stint in jail is the longest so far, he is not new to such persecution at the hands of his country’s communist oligarchs.

He was jailed for 20 months in 1989 when he went on hunger strike to support the democracy movement. Beginning in 1996, he spent another three years at a re-education camp for his criticism of the party’s monopoly on power.

After serving his current sentence at the pleasure of his country’s communist cabal, he will have spent 16 years in jail.

Still, Liu remains unbowed with his indomitable will to pursue the cause of political reform for his country. If -democracy has to succeed in China at some point, men like Liu are the ones who will keep the torch alive.

Speaking at his trial on Dec. 23, he recalled, “[After] I was imprisoned [in 1989] for ‘counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement to crime’ … I was never again allowed to publish or speak in public in China … but I still want to tell the regime that deprives me of my freedom … I have no enemies and no hatred … For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience.”

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