Friday, October 10, 2008

China Off the Hook

Based on yesterday's post, most readers must have surmised that I have strong feelings about the Chinese government. Those same readers can also correctly surmise that I am disappointed this morning that none of the Chinese dissidents on the short list for the Nobel Prize were nominated. I'm sure that the Chinese government is breathing a sigh of relief, a reprieve that they simply do not warrant.

As I wrote yesterday, the awarding of the Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident struggling for basic human rights would have offered a counter-weight to China's moment in the sun as the undeserving host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. But that was not meant to be.

This morning, the Nobel Committee announced from Oslo that it was awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari for his role as an effective and accomplished global mediator who influenced the resolutions to conflicts in Kosovo, Namibia, and other troubled countries. While I am sure he is a very deserving and esteemed individual, I cannot help but regret the great opportunity squandered by the Nobel committee to make a globally impactful statement about China's continuing repression of free speech and political and religious freedom.

Perhaps next year will be the time when China's dissidents receive the attention, recognition and notoriety that they deserve. Many of us already know that China's ability to unrealistically polish its image only gets easier as its global economic power and influence grows, even as its penchant for environmental degradation and rampant repression of freedoms goes unchecked.

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