Does China deserve to have its own “peace prize”?

One of the more interesting developments in the interplay between Chinese and Western foreign policy was China’s decision to host its own “peace prize”. Regardless of how badly it was actually handled and implemented by the Chinese, I am interested in this question: Should the US have attended the ceremony and encouraged the winner of the prize (a former PM of Taiwan) to show up?

Despite the rather insecure way in which it was introduced, just following what was perceived to be an insult to their status (Liu Jiabao, a Chinese dissident and political prisoner, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize) supporting China here could have completely changed the cold relationship between the two countries. My assessment is that the US administration could have shown great leadership by persuading the Chinese to postpone the award ceremony until a more appropriate time and then attending with a strong delegation to support the Chinese and convincing some European leaders to do the same.

The downside to this, of course is domestic politics as well as, potentially, transatlantic politics, though I think both would understand given a strong, credible statement by the US President. Not only would that be likely to win us affection from the Chinese, but would give China a reason to believe we are not the enemy. We might even show that we’ve learned from our mistakes with Soviet Russia. Bringing the Chinese into a constructive and responsible role within the framework of the international order that has been established, largely by the West, should be near the top of the US’ priorities for the next decade or two. Global security in the 21st century depends upon it.

China was very impulsive in implementing a new peace prize award so close to the Nobel award, a very negative implication that showcases their insecurities, but this is primarily due to their lack of global experience as a leader. The United States could have been the responsible leader in the situation by attending both ceremonies; sending both the Speaker of the House as well as the Senate Majority Leader to the European Nobel award, while the US President and a symbolically significant delegation could travel to China for the Chinese award, signifying that the US understands and appreciates the concerns of both the Nobel community and the Chinese perspective. Making statements to clarify the position the US has taken would also be an imperative.

While I side with China over Europe very infrequently, we must understand that, in this instance, giving the Nobel award to an enemy of the Chinese state is much like China giving the Kong Fu Zi award to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. China could have gone that route, just to be impertinent and give the West a harder time of things, but they addressed the middle ground very maturely, giving the award to a Taiwanese PM who mended relations between the two countries. This was likely a big step by China, in giving the award to a man who represents a country that China views as essentially secessionist. China’s attempt to persuade other governments not to attend the Nobel award could be interpreted as free speech, since other governments are capable of making their own decisions. Further, this is no different than the action we took with the Soviet hosting of the Olympic Games in 1980.

Finally, I completely agree with the Nobel community’s ability to give the award to Liu Jiabao if they feel that he is the most worthy candidate, but I also agree with China’s position and understand why they have taken it a bit personally. Regarding the “judicial interference” that China has claimed, I would disagree with the Chinese if this were a different century (in the past), but today, such actions increase pressure on a government tremendously. Look at the US and UK involvement in the Iranian election. Seems like most know that the Iranian people at large are not of the same opinion as their leadership, but foreign intelligence involvement helped the opposition who nearly brought down the Iranian government. Knowing the impact of pressure from the international community, China could be forgiven for feeling a bit threatened. Indeed, let’s admit that the West is attempting to change China from the outside. This is exactly what they mean by interference in their judicial sovereignty. As people who have lived in NATO countries for most of our lives, many of us have grown accustomed to trying to disrupt an entire nation’s core philosophies. This should not become the norm, however and showing that we respect China will be the only way that we convince them that they should respect us. The domestic politics, in my opinion, are much more easily managed than a Chinese state that feels it has been alienated by the international community. If the US is to be a leader in the 21st century, it must be a bridge between the emerging markets and the West.

Barry A. Saturday

Date written: December 11-12, 2010

About Barry Saturday

The author is a Lexington, Ky-based financial advisor and formerly taught high school social studies for Fayette County Public Schools. Along with a M.A. in Education, his educational background consists of a B.A. in Foreign Languages and International Economics and an M.A. in Diplomacy with a concentration in Global Commerce. In 2012, he finished a two-month stint student teaching in Xi'an, China, and recently (2018) ran for City Council in Lexington, KY (District 4: Tates Creek / Nicholasville Rd area). Today's news outlets profit most from incendiary, surface-level appeals to emotion, which is poisoning much of our political discourse nationwide. Barry created this site in order to learn more about our world and share that knowledge with others. He hopes this site, aimed at an educated audience, will provide objective information for those seeking greater clarity and understanding than is often available in the current news environment. If you like what you see, feel free to comment and share with your network.

2 Responses to “Does China deserve to have its own “peace prize”?”

  1. According to a Yahoo! News source, China is still punishing Norway for its Peace Prize choice. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110408/bs_afp/norwaypeacechinadiplomacy

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How Does China Choose its Leaders? | TheSaturdaySyndicate.com - 2011.04.23

    […] Saturday, B. A. (2011, March 16). Does China deserve to have its own peace prize? Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://thesaturdaysyndicate.com: https://thesaturdaysyndicate.com/2011/03/16/chinese_peace_prize/ […]

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