Nobel Peace Prize and Chinese agents

Some Chinese people have been rather offended by the Nobel peace price awarded to dissident to Liu Xiaobo. They have also expressed their feelings in comment sections to Western blogs. The usual reaction by other people has been that the comments are either trolls (well, some surely are) or are entered by people who can only be paid agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). Many of the comments are quite full of prejudices.

Reading the Marginal Revolution blog, I ended up commenting this in such a long text that I vary it here as well.

Having lived for some time in China, and having been in contact with quite many Chinese since that, I think these accusations are mistaken. There are Chinese who defend their government and oppose Liu, or the granting of Nobel to Liu. They are not necessary trolls, or proxies of the CPC. Opinions like theirs are not at all uncommon among Chinese. And that is why this discussion works against the goals of the Nobel Peace Price. It is a mistake not to understand that very many Chinese genuinely support the current regime. They do believe it is doing a good job. They are even prepared to defend it in net discussions, out of their own, genuine conviction.

As an overall note: it seems a lot of right-wing people (particularly Americans) are disturbed by the concept of "communism" in the name of the dynasty that governs China (CPC). Here one should note that the loyalty to this dynasty is not really agreeing to communist ideals. This is not about communism; this is about being Chinese. If you're afraid of China, or if you don't like the way it works, you should not be fooled by the communist parlance. It's just liturgy. Talk about the Chinese. The Chinese describe their system as "socialist market economy"; I would characterize it as "capitalistic communism". See the difference? Capitalism is the prevailing economic system; communism is the prevailing administrative system. But in the end, real-world communism and traditional Chinese administration are not that different. The Chinese just realized that the economic theory of communism doesn't work, particularly in the modern world. The administrative part - dictatorship - works a lot better.

And this is why many left-wing Westerners are so angry with the Chinese. The CPC has betrayed the ideals of the Left, because once in power, after many hazardous experiments, they found out that the market economy works better than centrally planned economy. Before realizing this, tremendeous mistakes were made. Tens or hundreds of millions of people were killed by various experiments, like the Great Leap Forward. The CPC is not very willing to admit this in public, but it is willing to learn and not repeat the same mistakes. And this is perhaps the main reason why Western left wing hates the new-new China.

I don't really know enough about Liu Xiaobo's work in order to say whether the Nobel Peace Price was justified. In the past, the committee has sometimes made rather doubtful selections, like awarding Barack Obama last year. There it seems that the committee just wanted to snub the supporters of George W. Bush in the U.S., with little real grounds - as Obama's merits, or lack of, in the year that followed have shown - and I'd say last year's prize hardly worked in any way to promote world peace. In the election campaign, Obama spoke differently from G. W. Bush but in the office, he has had little choice to implement any different politics. The emptiness of speech now shows up in his falling poll support, although I don't think there's anything so much wrong in his policies as such.

To get back to Liu Xiaobo: I repeat, a vast number of Chinese individuals - who are not stupid and who are not entirely unaware of what goes on in the world, either - are genuinely offended by the Nobel to Mr. Liu.

The Nobel is not without merit. It brought attention to Charter 08 and leads me to think that Liu probably has important ideas that a larger number of Chinese should hear of, and therefore, perhaps the prize is, in the end, indeed for the good. But it might only work its way through confrontation and escalation of mutual suspicions.

So, bottom line: do not be fooled to believe that the Chinese who bash Liu are trolls, or agents of the CPC. Assume they are real persons with real opinions. That gets you going in the discussion.

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