Peace prize distances the West from China


Source: Global Times  [10:20 December 07 2010]

Jonathan Holslag

Kiyul Chung

Oliver Stuenkel

Editor's Note:

This year's Nobel Peace Prize might create some stir again when the award ceremony is held on December 10. Within China, the furious reaction toward the decision of the Nobel Committee hasn't subdued. How much damage has this award done to the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize committee and to the relationship between China and the West? Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui and Chen Chenchen talked to Jin Canrong (Jin), the deputy director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China; Zhang Zhongzai (Zhang), a professor at the Public Diplomacy Research Center, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Kiyul Chung (Chung), adjunct professor at the School of Journalism & Communication of Tsinghua University, Oliver Stuenkel (Stuenkel), visiting professor of International Relations at the University of S?o Paulo and a fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, Jonathan Holslag (Holslag), a researcher at Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies and Jamshed Ayaz Khan (Khan), the president of the Institute of Regional Studies, Pakistan.

GT: Geir Lundestad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee has said that the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was a political decision. What do you think is the political purpose behind this decision? And do you think the Nobel Peace Prize has become a political tool for Western countries?

Jin: I think the most immediate purpose is that the West wants China to follow its pattern and rhythm to promote democracy and further influence China's future political choices. Besides, the West made an ineffective response to the economic crisis while China relatively dealt with it well. Under such embarrassing conditions, attacking China on its human rights problems definitely could alleviate their passiveness in strategy.

The West is always emphasizing universal values. It is rare that they are willing to confess there are political intentions behind the Nobel Peace Prize. The speech made by the secretary of the committee was unusual, but it indeed revealed the truth.

Chung: This award represents a politically motivated demonizing campaign led by the US against China. It aims to weaken China's global standing by any means necessary. The West is still trying to hang on to its once sole glorious global superpower, which is continuing its ongoing decline.

(Right) Major General Jamshed Ayaz Khan

Jin Canrong

Zhang Zhongzai

GT: Do you think the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize had a negative effect of enlarging the gap between China and the Western World?

Zhang: This is an era that stresses difference, not uniformity. But the West is still adhering to the old idea that centered on themselves, in terms of interpretation of human rights and sovereignty. Country like the US would never allow infringement over its own sovereignty, but it has different standards for other countries.

Holsla: If Western countries succeed in upholding their own liberal political standards, defending the rights of minorities, and continuing the development of democracy - which is by no means a perfect system, I am sure that the Chinese people will come to appreciate much of these achievements.

What worries me is that the West is no longer making much progress and that socioeconomic uncertainty might bit by bit erode some of our political standards. If I look to Europe, populism and political intolerance are on the rise. How can you expect a country to make progress on human rights, if your own norms are less and less upheld?

GT: What is your comment on China's contribution to world peace over the past three decades?

Jin: China's efforts in the past three decades have achieved substantial improvement in the quality of life of 1.3 billion people, which is undoubtedly a huge contribution for mankind's well-being and quality of life.

Technically speaking, we have actively participated in international peacekeeping, international aid and disaster relief. We have played an active and responsible role in alleviating conflicts in hot spots. For example, we are making great efforts to help solve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

GT: Many Chinese believe that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has ignored China's achievements on human rights during the past three decades and intended to embarrass China ideologically, what is your comment?

Jin: The West emphasized that it was not a denial of China's human rights. But the point is that they want China to promote human rights in their desired direction. In the development of China's economy, increasing social liberalization, economic and social as well as management changes, China's progress is evident. But this progress does not comply with Western standards. The West is unwilling to admit China's progress and wants to influence the process by their way.

Chung: The Western world has a deeply-imbedded culture of self-righteousness, which means I am right, you are wrong. It's often a culture of hypocrisy in global affairs. One of the most well-known examples of this dualistic mentality could be found in the language of former US president Bush's "you are either with us or against us" policy.

The US is not interested in a genuine sense of freedom and democracy for the Chinese people. What the US is really interested in is creating domestic unrest and political disintegration within the vastly diverse multicultural society of China, so it is weaker or troubled.

GT: Both the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which was given to US President Barack Obama, and the 2010 Prize to a Chinese dissident aroused widespread controversy. How will this damage the authority of the Nobel Peace Prize?

Jin: Improper awarding certainly harms the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, not only the Peace Prize, but also other non-scientific prizes such as the Nobel Literature Prize are badly affected. Of course, the Peace Prize is the most controversial.

The Nobel Prizes are gradually becoming a tool of the West. If the trend is not stopped, the credibility of the prize will face enormous challenges. Not only the non-scientific prizes, but also the future of the scientific prizes are worthy of our concern.

Khan: Last year, the prize was awarded to US President Obama, when he was fighting two regional wars in Asia and many civilians were killed. I think  the prize will never be given to someone who challenges the Western system.

GT: When the West are trying to popularize its values around the world, they encounter resistance, what do you think is the reason behind that?

Stuenkel: There is a profound conviction in the West that liberal democracy is the best possible political system, and that one must spread this system across the world. This missionary zeal is particularly strong in the United States, and, to a lesser degree, in Western Europe.

There is a smaller group of China specialists in the West which point out that even Western countries only fully democratized after industrialization, and that radical political reform could cause instability in China, which would in turn hurt the West. But this group's influence is limited and often accused of defending human rights violations in China.

On a deeper level, I believe that there is concern among Western elites that the "China model" may prove so successful that other developing countries will copy it, rather than looking to the West.

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