Commentary: The cliches of Nobel Committee chairman

10:23, December 11, 2010      

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Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland has tabled again his explanation on his committee's decision to confer this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a convicted Chinese criminal.

Despite eloquence and arrogance, Jagland offered only some cliche remarks at a high-profile press conference held Thursday in Oslo, the Norwegian capital.

At the press conference, Jagland preached again "universal rights" and universal values to defend his committee's decision, saying they "are not Western standards."

In essence, he was once again trumpeting the notion of "human rights above sovereignty" after his signed article "Why We Gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel" in The New York Times in October this year. However, the fallacious notion has been opposed by a majority of countries in the international community.

In a nutshell, the notion does not recognize the fact that a nation-state provides a basic and substantial protection for the human rights of its citizens.

According to Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, "in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law..."

In other words, the declaration puts law ahead of the exercise of a person's rights and freedom. Then, why should Liu, in Jagland's understanding, be an exception to go beyond the legal limits in pursuing his rights and freedom?

It is known to all that Liu was convicted of violating Chinese law and engaging in activities aimed at overthrowing the government.

Generally, the Nobel prize-conferring ceremony is a popular occasion which usually draws massive attendance. But at this year's event on Friday, due to the committee's widely-disputed decision, Jagland saw a disappointing number of guests.

Jagland said Thursday that two thirds of embassies and consulates in Oslo were expected to send representatives to the ceremony, but he might have forgotten that only about 65 out of some 200 countries have embassies in Oslo.

While in comparison, more than 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for China's stance on this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Figures tell the truth about majority and minority.

Just as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu put it: "The people on the Nobel Committee must admit they are the minority. The Chinese people and a majority of countries and people in the world all oppose what they have done."

Jagland seemed to have set aside the pressure from China. But could he turn a blind eye to the vast support China enjoys on this issue internationally and disregard the attitudes of the world's majority?

Moreover, during the press conference, Jagland also demonstrated his ignorance of China, his arrogance as well as prejudice.

According to Jagland, awarding Liu is "a signal to China" that "it will be very important for China's future to combine economic development with political reforms."

But the "signal" seems nothing more than his arrogantly lecturing China by awarding a criminal, and his committee's pointing fingers at China's political system and development model.

Over the past six decades, especially since the adoption of the reform and opening up policy, China has made unprecedented progress in democratic politics and the human rights cause.

When China's efforts were widely acknowledged by the international community, Jagland deliberately dismissed them.

As Norwegian lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl said in an email sent to reporters in Oslo on Wednesday, "The 2010 Peace Prize reflects the mindset of people still caught in Western paternalism and a Cold War mentality."

All in all, Jagland's latest "signal" turned out to be mere political cliches, which are set to be rejected by the Chinese people and the majority of the international community at large.

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