Sat, Jul 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China won’t pay price for Liu’s death


Candles are formed in the shape of a heart during a vigil for Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

When China allowed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) to die in police custody, it made a bet that world governments were more invested in improving trade ties than defending political dissidents.

Even as Beijing has stepped up its crackdown on civil society, activists say, its trade partners have largely stepped down from their soap boxes.

Lured by the prospect of doing business with the world’s second-largest economy and growing, many nations have toned down their criticism of Beijing’s human rights violations, voicing their concerns behind closed doors, if at all.

“The Chinese government figured out 10 to 15 years ago that there was no real price to be paid,” Human Rights Watch China director Sophie Richardson said. “There was never going to be any greater consequence than public rhetoric.”

Shortly after Liu’s death, Beijing’s propaganda machine was already predicting the world would soon forget the democracy advocate, who lost a battle with liver cancer on Thursday at the age of 61.

“The West has bestowed on Liu a halo that will not linger,” an editorial in the state-owned Global Times said. “In Chinese history, none of China’s heroes were conferred by the West.”

Tributes to Liu poured in from around the world after his death, with several governments urging Beijing to release his wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), who has been held under house arrest since 2010.

China lodged official protests with the US, France, Germany and the UN human rights office over their “irresponsible remarks.”

A handful of governments had sought to secure Liu’s release.

As he lay in a heavily guarded hospital ward, Beijing declined offers by Taiwan, Germany and the US to host him, citing his deteriorating condition and denouncing the proposals as interference in China’s internal affairs.

The lack of public pressure meant “China was able to kill a Nobel peace laureate with impunity,” said Jay Nordlinger, a political commentator and author of a book on the Nobel Peace Prize’s history.

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