China’s beligerent tone with regard to its national winning the Nobel peace prize, in historical perspective:
China is not the first nation to be rankled by a Nobel Peace Prize. But its furious assault on the 2010 award to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo has reached proportions last seen during the Soviet and Nazi regimes.
Even Cold War dissidents Andrei Sakharov and Lech Walesa were able to have their wives collect the prizes for them. Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi’s award was accepted by her 18-year-old son in 1991.
But China’s clampdown on Liu’s relatives means the Nobel medal and diploma likely won’t be handed out for the first time since 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting the prize.
It has been reported that China has also asked (or demanded) that Japan, Korea, and a number of European states skip the Novel peace prize ceremony. Five states have followed China’s lead — Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco and Iraq. That’s an interesting set of friends. For Kazakhstan, that refusal is likely based on China becoming a growing export market for Kazakh hydrocarbons. For Iraq, it’s thanks to China’s monumental investment in construction and oil and gas projects in the country, as Western companies continue to treat the state as a hostile danger zone. For Cuba, and to a lesser degree Russia, it probably emphasizes with being criticized abroad for domestic repression — and even a smack of Communist solidarity. And as for Morocco… I’m not sure, but there appear to be strong developing ties between the two countries.
I can’t see how China’s confrontational tone works in their favor. The cardinal rule of international politics under the philosophy of this blog is — speak Victorian! China’s rough treatment of Japan over a minor incident by a drunk fisherman has pushed the DPJ administration to abandon a China relationship as a cornerstone of its strategy, pushing Japan squarely back into the arms of the US. And just yesterday, China ordained a bishop over Vatican objections, angering the Vatican, despite the Vatican’s best efforts to promote friendly relations with Beijing for at least the past decade. In both these incidents, we see China’s refusal to return any favors in kind.
If I could understand the PRC’s strategy from a realist perspective, I would be more comfortable with it. But I don’t understand what China has going for it with this strategy — which seems closer to North Korea more than anything else.