There are a record 237 candidates in the running for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, amongst them: the internet (god, that’s lame). Even more interesting than the inclusion of an inanimate intangible thing though, at least for us China news hounds, is the amount of Chinese dissidents on the list.
As is the way, China will probably be expressing its discontent about the nominees soon enough – though I’m quite curious to see whether they end up issuing individual denouncements for each candidate they don’t like… or if it’ll come in just one sweeping “Hey Nobel people, quit it with all the dissident noms already.” There’s also the off chance that they’ve realized the winner seems more dependant on fame than any actual deeds (cough cough Obama cough cough Gore) so these China troublemakers will probably fade from view if the government just doesn’t say anything… who knows?
Anyway, in case you were having trouble getting your dissidents straight, the nominees have been listed below:
Liu Xiaobo, from BBC News
Who is he: Probably the most famous dissident in China right now, Liu Xiaobo is the founder of Charter 08, a petition for democratic reforms in China.
Where is he: In June 2009, he was formally arrested on suspicion of incitement to subvert state power.
What did he do to hurt China: Well, besides that whole “incitement to subvert state power” thing, his wife has had the nerve to make China look like a country that doesn’t respect citizen rights, writing opinion pieces in the Washington Times begging President Obama to take up his case. The hullabaloo from the West had gotten so bad by February that it forced China’s foreign ministry to step up and tell everybody the truth – China doesn’t HAVE dissidents, so quit asking us to release them.
Who is he: A Chinese HIV/AIDS rights activist who’s been making trouble around China over AIDS issues, democracy issues and *gasp* Tibet. He was instrumental in exposing the blood-selling scandal in Henan which gave tens of thousands of villagers HIV/AIDS. He was also nominated for last year’s Nobel prize and won last year’s Sakharov Prize.
Where is he now: Jailed. He was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and given three and a half years in prison a couple months before the Olympics.
What did he do to hurt China: Well, besides not cooperating during his house arrest and even recording his kind of inept secret police, Hu Jia “published articles on overseas-run websites, made comments in interviews with foreign media, and repeatedly instigated other people to subert the state’s political power and socialist system… In his two website articles, ‘China Political Law-enforcement Organs Create Large-scale Horror ahead of CPC National Congress’, and ‘One Country Doesn’t Need Two Systems’, Hu spread malicious rumors, and committed libel in an attempt to subvert the state’s political power and socialist system,” summarized China Daily. In case you’ve been living under a rock, all of those are big no nos here.
Picture of Chen Guangcheng from Under the Jacaranda Tree
Who is he: A blind activist who drew international attention to human rights issues in rural areas. Though he doesn’t have a law degree (blind people aren’t allowed to study law… take that Matt Murdoch), he managed to audit in law classes enough to advise rural residents of their rights.
Where is he now: In jail. Notice a trend here? He was sentenced to four years and three months for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.” Since that was in August 2006, that means he’s actually set to get out of prison before the year end. We’ll see how he’s doing this Thanksgiving.
What did he do to hurt China: He interfered in Shandong Province officials’ efforts to make sure their women don’t overbreed. Apparently, he took offense at the illegal measures local authorities were using when enforcing the one-child policy – making women go through mandatory sterilization and abortions. The Central government agreed that this was a bad thing and detained the Shandong officials, but this didn’t stop Chen from needing to undergo his own trial for being a public menace. Which he lost.
Picture of Gao Zhisheng from Human Rights Watch
Who is he: One of the biggest human rights lawyers in China, Gao has defended fellow activists and religious minorities like the FLG (an organization whose full name we won’t mention, since it seems the GFW actually blocks you from searching for anything related to it right now) and underground Christians.
Where is he now: Nobody knows actually. Quite scarily, Gao disappeared about a year ago after being lured away for “a brief chat” with Chinese security agents. The last time the press asked Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhouxu where he was, Ma responded with “Honestly speaking, I don’t know where he is. China has 1.3 billion people and I can’t know all of their whereabouts.”
What did he do to hurt China: Despite being given the honor of recognition as “one of the country’s 10 best lawyers” by the Ministry of Justice, Gao turned around and started making trouble for the motherland. He resigned from the Communist Party in 2005 and started defended the FLG, whom everybody knows is an insane cult-like organization bent on taking over China. I mean, they set themselves on FIRE and stuff.
Picture of Bao Tong from Radio Free Asia
Who is he: A former Communist Party official who was the top aide to Zhao Ziyang, a reformist party chief that sympathized with democracy protestors in the 1989 incident. Last year, he also sneaked Zhao’s memoirs out of the country, where they were published.
Where is he now: We’re not sure, but we’re thinking
he’s probably still in “internal exile” in Zhejiang province. He was sent there to stay after the 20th anniversary of the June 4 events. UPDATE: People tell me he’s right now living in Beijing under house arrest.
What did he do to hurt China: Look, you’re either with us or against us. And Bao Tong has proved, over the last two decades, to be against us.
Who is she: The leader of the World Uighur Congress, which either “represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people both in East Turkestan and abroad” or a terrorist organization with a separatist agenda, depending on who you ask.
Where is she now: Last we checked, she was in Washington D.C., where she’s in exile. This makes her probably the most comfortably situated out of the people on this list. Not that we think that influences the Nobel Peace Prize committee’s decision making process… but it’s worth mentioning.
What did she do to hurt China: Instigated those riots last summer, of course. The Xinjiang riots killed hundreds and injured thousands, not to mention caused the entire region to undergo an internet block out that, to this day, hasn’t been completely lifted. Sure, she denies her involvement and argues that it was supposed to be peaceful until someone came to muck it all up – but even her family doesn’t believe that. Oh yeah, and thanks to her, Facebook’s blocked in China.