"China has an unhappy relationship with Nobel Prizes"

Liu Xiaobo

Julia Lovell, translator of Zhu Wen’s I Love Dolllars and Other Stories of China, began her op-ed on Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel published in The Independent by writing, “China has an unhappy relationship with Nobel Prizes.”

As Lovell points out no Nobel Prize has been awarded to a Chinese person while they were living in China. It is something the nation has sought since it rejoined the international community in the 1980s. Thus, the fact that the prize went to a dissident is particularly difficult for the Chinese government to accept. Moreover, the Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel gives him far more recognition both internationally and within China itself. Lovell writes,

Responses to Liu (and his prize) have been vigorously censored in China. But the renowned “Great Firewall” of internet control is porous. Minutes after the announcement of Liu’s prize, well-informed Chinese microbloggers were buzzing with jubilation. The Nobel Prize is an award that enjoys unique global prestige: within China, it is often seen as an impartial, international source of recognition. That a dissident of Liu Xiaobo’s stature has been honoured is bound to alarm the Beijing government.

For more on the role of the Internet in Chinese society there is Guobin Yang’s excellent The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. You can also browse I Love Dollars and its compelling portraits of contemporary China via Google Preview.

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