China has both succeeded and failed in its attempt to force a boycott of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Friday in protest against the decision to award the honour to Liu Xiaobo, whom it regards as a criminal – but who the rest of the world sees as a non-violent campaigner for democracy and basic human freedoms.
It has succeeded because it has strong-armed Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco among others not to attend the ceremony – from which Liu Xiaobo will also be absent, since he is serving an 11-year jail sentence for "inciting subversion" after drafting a charter calling for multi-party democracy in China. An outraged Beijing condemned the award as a political intrusion into its internal affairs and branded the Nobel committee as interfering "clowns".
Where China has failed is in the very list of dubious democracies, outright autocracies and oppressive regimes it has managed to drum up in support of its indignant bluster. The cast of countries is an axis of weevils for most of whom the award to Liu Xiaobo constitutes a reprimand as aptly as it does to China. The protest underscores, rather neatly, that the Nobel committee has made exactly the right decision.