Quick Edit | The empty chair

Quick Edit | The empty chair

This is one battle China lost. Freeing jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, or allowing his wife to travel out of the country to pick up Liu’s Peace Nobel, would have earned it some diplomatic goodwill—and, maybe, the world would have soon forgotten the reason for which Liu was jailed—fighting for political reform in a country that firmly believes in a one-party system. China did neither. It also embarked on a diplomatic mission to convince and threaten other countries to boycott the awards ceremony (India, fortunately, refused to be cowed, despite an imminent state visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao). And, on the day of the award, it blacked out international media within the country. All these only served to highlight China’s fear of democracy to the world. And far more powerfully than the empty chair reserved for Liu at Friday’s award ceremony in Oslo.

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