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Do supporters of Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo really know what he stands for?|
The Chinese dissident has praised the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – and said China should be fully westernised
In recent weeks, Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo's politics have been reduced to a story of a heroic individual who upholds human rights and democracy. His views are largely omitted to avoid a discussion about them, resulting in a one-sided debate. Within three weeks, in Hong Kong, for example, more than 500 articles were published about Liu, of which only 10 were critical of the man or peace prize.
In China, before the award, most people neither knew nor cared about Liu, while, according to Andrew Jacobs, writing in the International Herald Tribune, an "official survey of university students taken since the prize was awarded found that 85% said they knew nothing about Mr Liu and Charter '08." A Norwegian Sinologist has elicited comments from Chinese people and indicated that younger Chinese still do not care about Liu. Older Chinese intellectuals are interested in discussing the award, but many do not think Liu is an appropriate recipient.
Imprisoning Liu was entirely unnecessary. If Liu's politics were well-known, most people would not favour him for a prize, because he is a champion of war, not peace. He has endorsed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he applauded the Vietnam and Korean wars retrospectively in a 2001 essay. All these conflicts have entailed massive violations of human rights. Yet in his article Lessons from the Cold War, Liu argues that "The free world led by the US fought almost all regimes that trampled on human rights … The major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible." During the 2004 US presidential election, Liu warmly praised George Bush for his war effort against Iraq and condemned Democratic party candidate John Kerry for not sufficiently supporting the US's wars:
[T]he outstanding achievement made by Bush in anti-terrorism absolutely cannot be erased by Kerry's slandering … However much risk must be endured in striking down Saddam Hussein, know that no action would lead to a greater risk. This has been proven by the second world war and September 11! No matter what, the war against Saddam Hussein is just! The decision by President Bush is right!
Liu has also one-sidedly praised Israel's stance in the Middle East conflict. He places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict on Palestinians, who he regards as "often the provocateurs".
Liu has also advocated the total westernisation of China. In a 1988 interview he stated that "to choose westernisation is to choose to be human". He also faulted a television documentary, He Shang, or River Elegy, for not thoroughly criticising Chinese culture and not advocating westernisation enthusiastically enough: "If I were to make this I would show just how wimpy, spineless and ----ed-up [weisuo, ruanruo, caodan] the Chinese really are". Liu considered it most unfortunate that his monolingualism bound him in a dialogue with something "very benighted [yumei] and philistine [yongsu]," the Chinese cultural sphere. Harvard researcher Lin Tongqi noted that an early 1990s book by Liu contains "pungent attacks on the Chinese national character". In a well-known statement of 1988, Liu said:
It took Hong Kong 100 years to become what it is. Given the size of China, certainly it would need 300 years of colonisation for it to become like what Hong Kong is today. I even doubt whether 300 years would be enough.
Affirming this sentiment in Open magazine in 2006, he added that progress in China depends on westernisation and the more westernisation, the more progress. While his supporters excuse Liu's pro-colonialism as a provocation, it logically aligns with his support for total westernisation and US-led regime changing wars.