Peace prize award reflects Western anxieties

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-10-21 22:33:00

The Nobel Peace Prize was first awarded in 1901.

Editor's Note:

The award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo has stirred up heated discussion. It has also increased tensions between China and some Western countries. What does the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize mean to the political system of China? Would it affect the future relations between China and some Western countries? What role did the US play in influencing the Nobel committee? Seven scholars and experts gathered at the Global Times to discuss these issues.

2010 Nobel Peace Prize rooted in Western anxiety

Ni Feng, director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

The award to Liu Xiaobo is a kind of signal. The issue of human rights has always been a structural contradiction between China and some Western countries, and has been affecting relations in recent years.

It is the same in the Sino-US relationship. During the toughest period of the financial crisis, the US de-emphasized this issue. But after the financial crisis, the US changed its tone on the human rights issue with China.

There used to be a political judgment among the Americans. They believed that with the economic growth in China, the middle class of the society would rise up, which would lead to the implementation of Western democracy.

But now, the middle class has indeed risen, but they don't seem to show much interest in Western democracy, but instead, are starting to enjoy a life with cars and properties. They haven't pursued the political ends the West expected.

When the US realized that this strategy is failing, they started looking for other approaches. So they turned to history for possibilities.

When the West was having conflicts with the Soviet Union, they tried to damage its image in the international community and also provoke internal conflicts. But China is not the Soviet Union, and I don't think the same tricks would work on China.

In recent years, the focus of the US human rights policy has been on the grass-roots level in China, which is targeting China's existing social conflicts. Liu's case is just a symbol of their policy, and it doesn't have much impact on the life of ordinary Chinese people.

But if they mix up this sort of ideological policy with the current social conflicts in China, it would be difficult for China to deal with.

Zhang Shengjun, professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Beijing Normal University:

I feel that the power of language is very strong. Countries on both sides of the Pacific share the same values and the Nobel Peace Prize is part of it.

At the moment, the Western values still surround China. If we talk about the current social conflicts in China, the West would say proudly, this is what we were going through 100 years ago.

Therefore, Chinese people have developed a complex in the last few years, thinking China would be on the same path as the West eventually, but when China is going fast in another direction, they feel strange.


Yu Wanli, associate professor, School of International Studies,

Peking University:

The Liu Xiaobo case is accidental but also inevitable. Even if the Nobel committee didn't award the prize to Liu, they would still have given it to someone else that would humiliate China.

The fundamental reason is that the West is collectively anxious about China's fast development.

In the last 30 years, China's development has been cooperating with the West and blending itself into the international system, while on the other hand keeping a different political system and development mode. This kind of development left the West confused, because China didn't go through the political reform the West was expecting.

And at the same time, China's development and openness makes it impossible for the West to control it.

In this situation, the West can only use their values of democracy and human rights to contain China, and this "soft attack" is a strategic way to deal with China by using non-governmental powers.

When Hilary Clinton visited China in 2009, she made it clear that human rights shouldn't be a hindering factor in the cooperation between China and the US. But in the meantime, the US has been using every opportunity to encourage NGOs and multinational companies to produce trouble for China in areas like human rights, environmental protection, and trade issues.

Chinese strength worries West

Zhang Shengjun: The West is in a period of strategic conflicts at the moment. They want to see a more developed and open China, but when they see China developing democracy in a way different from the West, they started to focus on the human rights issue. But this is very hypocritical.

In fact, they are more worried about the emergence of China's national strength, especially when their overall strength is weakening.

In a rational sense, China's development doesn't pose any threat to the world's peace and development.

But the West is worried based on their anxiety and this sometimes could lead to a chaotic move, which is reflected by awarding the Nobel Prize.


Wang Xiaodong, a scholar in Beijing:

China has been increasing its investment in science in recent years. I was told by a friend who works in a technological university that their research funding has increased tenfold in the last six years.

Therefore, despite the obvious problems in the scientific research system, there will be a clear payback in five to 10 years time. So under the circumstances, the US is feeling a lot of pressure.

Since the Korean War, the US has been very secure in Northeast Asia in military terms, but now things are changing. The US is still in a stable state in Japan and South Korea, but numbers of China's medium-range missiles are increasing, which is a big threat for the US.

China is not challenging the US, but the US cares about strength more than intentions. As long as the strength to challenge the US exists, it doesn't matter what intentions China has.

Yang Fan, professor at China University of Political Science and Law:

What is the most important issue for China in the next few years? It is not human rights, but economic stability.

The US successfully brewed the expectation of the Chinese yuan rising, and the US itself has been over-printing bank notes, which means that all the investment capital has rushed into China, which made it difficult for the Chinese government to control the property bubble.

China needs very effective control polices to counter the property bubbles, otherwise it will collapse.

Fang Ning, director of the Political Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

I think it's high time that China and the US entered a period of truce.

China wants to use economic and trading methods to achieve a win-win situation with the West.

I was in Japan this summer and it got me thinking. During WWII, Japan tried to invade other countries to expand its territory, but it didn't end well. But after the war, big companies like Panasonic and Sanyo helped strengthen Japan. China wants to develop its economy in the same way.

At the moment, China is offering labor to the West to earn some money and rejuvenate the country. But they wouldn't stand for it.

What should China do now? Is it time for China to get ready for a fight?

Pang Zhongying, professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China:

The globalization process has been going on for almost 40 years since 1971 and it has also been a time for the global order to shift. Non-state actors are becoming more and more important in international relations.

Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, this round of globalization has come to a crucial crossroads. How to make the right choice for the next step is essential to the future development of a country.


Peace Prize reflects the Western crisis

Pang Zhongying: Maybe some people in the West hold that the way to deal with China's emergence is through another Cold War.

But as a matter of fact, a new Cold War is almost impossible because of the economic connection between China and the US. Economic reform and solving the structural unemployment problem will not be easy. Also the US is facing problems with the overall decline of national strength.

There is no immediate solution to any of them and they are all related in some way to China. Therefore, the West will use all possible means to influence China's development.

Fang Ning: I went to Europe a few days ago to visit the UK, Greece and Hungary. I realized that the financial crisis is fundamentally a crisis of welfare in the West. Behind it is the Western political system.

The current welfare system in the West has created a lot of problems in society and encouraged laziness. Also the political system and democracy made it difficult for the society to correct itself and it ended up in the financial crisis.

So when it comes to China and other emerging countries, the West has run out of way to deal with them, hence the Nobel Peace Prize.

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