China will not be a true world leader until it stops human rights abuses at home and support for “brutal” regimes, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace prize winner Desmond Tutu wrote in an editorial.
The veteran pro-democracy activists also urged Beijing to free Peace Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) from jail and his wife from house arrest before Friday’s Nobel awards ceremony in Oslo.
“China’s support for abusive regimes and the brutal force with which it crushes dissent within its own borders demonstrates that substantial reform is needed if China is to be viewed within the international community as a true leader,” Havel and Tutu wrote in UK newspaper the Observer yesterday.
They said the world should strenuously object to the Chinese model for development that asserted “that anything, including domestic and international oppression, can be justified if it is viewed to enable economic growth.”
They added that international scrutiny of Chinese human rights violations was not meddling in its internal affairs.
“It flows from its [China’s] legal commitments to respect the inherent dignity and equality of every person,” they wrote.
The article said that governments in Myanmar, Sudan and North Korea “remain free to commit mass atrocities against its peoples” and remain an international threat to security and peace due to China’s support and weapon supplies.
China is furious at the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding what many consider the world’s top accolade to Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence for “subverting state power” after he helped write a 2008 manifesto calling for strengthened human rights and multi-party rule in China.
Liu’s manifesto was based on a letter by Havel and other Czechoslovak intellectuals in the 1970s protesting against the communist government. Havel also nominated Liu for the Nobel Peace prize. Tutu won the 1984 Nobel Peace prize for efforts to end South Africa’s apartheid system by peaceful means. The pair are also honorary co-chairs of Freedom Now, a group that represents Liu as his international legal counsel.
Beijing has pressured diplomats to boycott Friday’s award ceremony, denounced the award to Liu as an “obscenity” and suspended talks with Norway over a free-trade agreement.
China has kept Liu’s wife and scores of other dissidents under house arrest to prevent them coming to Oslo for the ceremony, where the laureate will be represented by an empty chair.
“The first step [for China] must be the unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo and his wife,” Havel and Tutu wrote.
In related news, protesters rallied in Hong Kong yesterday for Liu’s release.
A small crowd of demonstrators with banners gathered in front of City Hall and planned to march to the Chinese government liaison office 2.5km away.