ノーベル平和賞 中国に民主化を迫る授賞だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 10, 2010)
Liu's Nobel pressures China on democracy
ノーベル平和賞 中国に民主化を迫る授賞だ(10月9日付・読売社説)

The winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by an imprisoned Chinese pro-democracy activist sends a strong message to China to respect fundamental human rights. The nation, which has grown into a major economic power, is overdue to take steps toward democratization.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it honored Liu Xiaobo, who has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, "for his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights."

The committee then called on China to respect freedom of speech and other rights of its people.

The Nobel Peace Prize is seen as highly political in nature, having been awarded to such figures as the 14th Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, in 1989, and Aung San Suu Kyi, a Myanmar pro-democracy leader, in 1991.

This year's recognition of Liu apparently is in line with such precedents.


Beijing lashes out

But the head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Information Department lashed out at the Nobel committee's decision, saying that Liu is "a criminal who has been sentenced for violating Chinese laws." The decision to award him the peace prize runs counter to the purpose of the award, the senior spokesman added.

Prior to Friday's announcement, a Chinese vice foreign minister visited Norway and pressured the Nobel committee not to award the peace prize to Liu. With this request now clearly rejected, China likely will continue criticizing the decision.

Liu, who is also an author, played a leading role in writing Charter 08, a document listing 19 demands including direct elections and freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

Chinese authorities arrested and indicted Liu, saying that his speech and acts were aimed at subversion of the government. A jail sentence for Liu was finalized at an appeal hearing in February.


Rights charter suppressed

Chinese authorities suppressed Charter 08, and further stepped up regulations and oversight of media and publications.

Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have recently called for some political reform. It is likely they can no longer ignore the international community's calls for political reform in China.

The party leadership aims to carry out political reform within the framework of the socialist regime. But there is no sign that any concrete steps toward reform have been taken.

China's defense spending has increased every year since the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, at an even faster pace than the nation's economic growth. While the military buildup has been proceeding, China has flourished economically. But in terms of the people's rights, no progress has been seen. We wonder how long such a distorted situation can continue.

If China wants to become a responsible member of the international community, it must take to heart the meaning of Liu's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 9, 2010)
(2010年10月9日01時12分 読売新聞)

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