Liu Xiaobo, from BBC News
This weekend, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was charged with ‘inciting subversion’. Today, facing a barrage of criticism over its handling of the case, the PRC responded with a gentle reminder for the West to not interfere.
Liu is the founder of Charter 08, a petition calling for democratic reforms in China, such as multi-party elections, greater freedom of expression and independent courts. The document received around 7,000 signatures both within and outside of China. He was taken into detention in December 2008, just before Charter 08 was published online. In June of this year, he was formally arrested on suspicion of incitement to subvert state power.
Over the past couple of days, the West’s response to his arrest has gotten louder. On Sunday, liberal UK newspaper, The Guardian, urged China to be held accountable for political repression. The following day, the EU also called for Liu’s unconditional release. And today, the BBC reported that the US State Department urged “the government of China to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized freedoms.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry lamented what it perceived as Western interference in domestic affairs. Its spokeswoman, Jiang Yu said today:
These accusations are unacceptable. China is a country of rule of law. The fundamental rights of Chinese citizens are guaranteed by the law (…) I want to stress that Chinese judicial bodies handle cases independently. Outsiders have no right to interfere. We oppose any external forces using this case to meddle in China’s internal affairs or judicial sovereignty.
So, it seems the PRC is likely to brush off Western anger and continue its procedures with Liu, who may face trial as soon as next week. He potentially faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. We’re left with the usual tug of war between the West wanting to impose its own standards and China fiercely reasserting her independence.