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July 22, 2017

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China's failings exposed by Nobel row

In China's upside down world where black is white, the great honor of the Nobel Peace Prize being given to Liu Xiaobo, a writer, intellectual and human rights activist, has been denounced by the government as a "desecration" of the award because it was given to "a criminal who broke China's laws."

That is more a condemnation of Chinese laws than of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which said in its announcement, "China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights."

The committee honored Liu for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

But, assuming the mantle of defender of Alfred Nobel, creator of the prize, a Chinese government spokesman said the proper recipient should be someone who has worked for "fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

The Nobel committee countered by saying it "has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace" and that "such rights are a prerequisite for the 'fraternity between nations' of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will."

China's reaction has been to censor news of the award, round up supporters of Liu and put his wife under house arrest. By these actions, the government has condemned itself and justified the decision to honor Liu as "the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights."

The Nobel peace prize is a major morale boost for dissidents in China, who have suffered from ever-increasing repression. It requires incredible courage to be a dissident in China, struggling for freedom, but the struggle continues despite all odds.

This indomitable spirit was evident again a few days ago when a human rights lawyer, Yang Jinzhu, called on Wang Shengjun, the president of the Supreme People's Court, to resign after the court authorized the execution of Fan Qihang in Chongqing despite evidence that he had been tortured into confessing to murder and other crimes.

It is unclear what Yang's fate will be but the lawyer has made it clear that he will persevere in his campaign against the country's top judge until either his own death or imprisonment or the judge is removed from office, whichever comes first.

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