Clifford Coonan: People here don't thank outsiders for criticising their country
Tuesday 12 October 2010
It was entirely predictable that the award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was both widely applauded in the West and was the source of great anger for the Chinese government. The reaction among ordinary Chinese has been more complex.
Many Chinese see it as yet another attack on China, embodying what they see as sour grapes in the West about China's startling economic rise and a lack of understanding of how the country works. Few ordinary Chinese people had even heard of the 54-year-old literary critic.
For many trying to make China more democratic, the award is being interpreted as a strong message of support, especially as many activists will have been disheartened by the way that business interests have dominated the discourse with China in recent years. There has been little mention of human rights, free speech and democracy.
The award has also highlighted how Chinese dissidents are not unified, and there are differing views of how democratic change should come about. For instance, Wang Dan, one of the leaders of the student democracy movement that was crushed on 4 June 1989, warmly welcomed the award while Wei Jingsheng, who spent nearly two decades in prison for his calls for democracy in China, said others deserved the Nobel Peace Prize more. Mr Wei, who lives in exile in Washington, described Mr Liu as a moderate who was too willing to work with Beijing.
One former pro-democracy protester said that the decision to give Mr Liu the award was entirely political. The protester said it was like when the Nobel went to the Dalai Lama – it was an award that showed what Westerners thought about China and the message they wanted to send about the country.
On the streets of Beijing, many attacked this year's Nobel Peace Prize decision. A university professor, who did not want to be named, said that it was recognised that China had problems with democracy and human rights, but people could see the efforts that the government was making to improve the situation.
One 31-year-old woman highlighted the complexity of the arguments. "I can criticise from inside, but I still want to protect China from the outside, like a son wants to protect his mother. Even if you know your mom is ugly, you are still unhappy when you hear others say it to you, and what you want to do is to protect her and change her."
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 5 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
April Fools' Day 2015 live: The best pranks and fake stories from around the world
University of Cambridge: Remains of 1,300 scholars are found under building
Turkey power cut: Prime Minister says nationwide blackout could be caused by terrorists
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£28500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique corp...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in the design...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...
£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...