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Liu Xiaobo and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

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Uploaded on Dec 2, 2010

When Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the U.S. President held a press conference to accept the award, saying he was "surprised and humbled" by the honor. One year later, the announcement of the 2010 Peace Prize was greeted by a drastically different scene: though the Norwegian Nobel committee publicly announced a winner, there was no acceptance speech given and no award presented.

That's because the Nobel committee chose to give the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo-- a human rights activist imprisoned by the Chinese government in 2009 for attempting to subvert the country's government. His part in crafting the infamous Charter '08 document, a call for greater democratic freedoms in the country signed by multitudes of Chinese nationals, was reason enough for China to strip him of his political rights and put him in jail. Today, Xiaobo continues to serve out his 11-year prisoner sentence in China's Jinzhou prison.

Rather than considering it a step in the right direction for China to claim its first Nobel Peace Prize winner, following the announcement by Nobel Peace Prize committee chair Thorbjørn Jagland, China's foreign ministry called it shameful and disrespectful. This reaction to the prize drew harsh criticisms from around the world: the Dalai Lama rebuked China's stinging retorts; human rights advocacy groups contributed to the criticisms; and a large fraction of the international community passed condemning judgement.

And it certainly didn't end with politics: the international news media reared its head and started a firestorm of reporting. Western news organizations were quick to chime in, with video from the UK's Gaurdian, France's BFMTV, CBS and NBC of the United States, and Al-Jazeera English all covering the story and providing the background to Xiaobo's initial arrest and prison sentence. On the other side of the world, it garnered equal attention, with such television outlets as Russia Today and Japan's NHK English also reporting on the issue.

But from China?
Not a word.

The Global Pulse team was hard pressed to find any mention of Xiaobo on CCTV, China's main news broadcast. Yet where CCTV media fails, other news outlets in China have provided a certain level of insight into the situation. According to the China Media Project, the Republic's People's Daily took aim at Xiaobo personally, claiming he couldn't possibly fathom the underlying spirit of socialism and the community-oriented laws that kept order in China. The Chinese government was also quick to respond: immediately after the Prize announcement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu claimed that the Nobel Prize committee "showed a lack of respect for China's judicial system," threatening once again the Norwegian government for its support of the Nobel Committee's decision.

But the underlying issue is the prevalence of human rights violations in China. Xiaobo was just one of the many dissidents that have been jailed, the most popular of them including Internet freedom-activist Huang Qi, women's and labor rights fighter Mao Hengfeng, and Tibetan rights activist Tsering Woeser among others.

China has yet to face major retribution for these rights violations. But the reality of China's power is startlingly clear: especially when its own people have little knowledge of the controversy (thanks to bans on internet searches), the backing of a billion people compared to the western world-- well, the math simply doesn't work in the favor of human rights.

Follow our Global Pulse team as we explore more on this international human rights issues. Watch our Real Conversations interviews to see what people have to say about Xiaobo, and read our opinion pieces about the background of Xiaobo's Charter 08.

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