Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nobel rites boycott: A bitter pill to swallow?

Today is the awarding of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for the jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo. This is the first time in the 109 years history of the Nobel Prize that not even a representative of a laureate could attend the prestigious Ceremony.
Whereas a total of 45 nations will attend the Ceremony, China has successfully campaigned for 19 other countries to refrain from participating. As of today, 20 countries have confirmed to boycott the Ceremony (Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam).
The no-show list indicates China's growing political and economic influence in international relations. As the country gains importance as a rising power, countries with significant trade and political partnership with China find it increasingly difficult not to give in to Beijing's demands. The boycott campaign also serves as a loyalty test to other other countries, said Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
A permanent member of the UN Security Council and the world's second largest economy, the Nobel award "explicitly reveals Western countries' attempts to back anti-socialism forces and utilize them to disrupt China's development. This is a clear indication that the West does not want a strong China," according to The People's Daily.
In Manila, the Philippine government has received much criticisms from human rights advocates for bending to Beijing's repeated demands to boycott the Nobel rites. A MalacaƱang official said the government does not want another irritant in Manila's ties with Beijing following the botched tourist bus hijacking incident that killed eight Hong Kong nationals in August.
In Serbia, the decision shocked EU members as the country applies for membership. An official said that the decision not to attend the Nobel Ceremony was "in the best interest of the country."
The South China Morning Post announced this week that an alternative prize--the Confucius Peace Prize--was awarded to former Taiwanese vice-president Lien Chan who did not attend attend yesterday's ceremony in China's capital. He was not notified. A six-year-old girl accepted on his behalf.
Click here for more details.
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