Ignoble ignorance

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-11 08:30
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To most Chinese, it no longer matters to whom and in what manner the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Honoring someone the government dislikes may serve to embarrass China in this year's case, but that is almost all.

Those who wish to push forward China's economic and political reforms by awarding the prize to a Chinese lawbreaker do not realize that Chinese people abhor outside interference in their internal affairs because of the way China was bullied and exploited by Western powers from the 1840s to the 1940s. They also fail to see Chinese people's resolution to choose their own path to implement those reforms and the achievements China has already made in these fields in the past 30 years.

Embarrassing as it may be, the fanfare in Oslo offers a rare opportunity to update and enrich the diplomatic outlook of ordinary Chinese. After all, not everyone in the world wants China's social and political stability to continue.

But those in Oslo should know that this year's prize has only served to interrupt the otherwise steady progress in dialogues over human rights.

The Nobel Peace Prize is hardly worth the fuss and hoopla it has caused. Unlike the apolitical Nobel prizes in the sciences, the peace prize is laden with moral and political bias and dilemmas, increasingly so, as it is being conferred on disputable candidates more frequently.

Quite a few Westerners cherish the naive hope that the prize will "enlighten the Chinese on human rights" and instigate the changes they wish to see in the country because they have been too preoccupied with their own fantasies to realize what is happening in the real world.

True, the state of human rights here is not as good as we want it to be, but it is not as bad as those on the Norwegian Nobel Committee think.

We aspire for development and hate corruption. We cry out against abusive officials. We readily blame those problems on the Party and the government. But, by and large, we share the faith that we can sort all our problems ourselves.

Outside advice is fine and outside cooperation is welcome. That is why China has engaged in human rights dialogues with a number of other countries. But condescending Western interference is not. Given what the country has been through in modern history, outside pressure will only enhance national cohesion here.

The Norwegians and the people of other countries present at Friday's ceremony in Oslo may not care what we think about human rights or what we think about the Nobel Peace Prize. But it would help to know a thing or two if they want to make real progress with and in China.

Although the presence or absence of countries at the Oslo event may not suffice to draw a clear line between friends and foes, as some anticipate, it may be a useful reference for fine-tuning the country's diplomatic efforts.

(China Daily 12/11/2010 page5)