Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dai Qing Announces Intention to Attend Nobel Ceremony

The question of who would be able to show up and accept the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is still up in the air weeks before the scheduled ceremony. It is almost certain that Liu Xiaobo himself, who is currently in jail, or his wife Liu Xia would not be able to make the trip. So much so that Liu Xia had issued an open invitation to their friends. Most on that list are currently under government surveillance and lost their freedom in China. Except perhaps for one.

That one is Dai Qing, a famous journalist and writer who had actively participated in the 1989 student movement (albeit in a somewhat controversial fashion). Dai Qing is also a fellow of the environmental organization Probe International and is on a cross-Canada speaking tour on its behalf. Therefore, she is not under the direct control of the Chinese government.

In an essay titled Liu Xia's Grand List, Dai Qing reflected on her feelings of the award and current state of human rights in China and went on to offer herself as the last resort of attending the ceremony:
Now Liu Xia’s Grand List is flying through cyberspace. Although the seats in the award ceremony hall are limited, people still hope that if Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia are ultimately not allowed to go, the Chinese authorities will allow their comrades to go.

I was honored to be included in Liu Xia’s Long List of “Xiaobo’s fellow friends.” In all fairness, I cannot compare with anyone else on the list in terms of my contribution or hardship in China’s struggle for modernization. I also cannot compare with the others in my personal relationship with Xiaobo: our face-to-face contact could be counted in only dozens of hours, not to mention that I have also written articles critical of him.

Like many Chinese citizens, it is painful and sad for me to see China’s foreign relations leading to so many conflicts. Compared with our current territorial and resource challenges and other pressing concerns, Xiaobo’s matter would seem to have an easy resolution: Release Xiaobo. Tell the world that in China, any citizen is free to propose ideas on national affairs to the government. If Liu Yunshan (China’s propaganda chief) believes this would cause the collapse of heaven and earth, then the authorities could just release Liu Xia, whose life for the past many years has been devoted to her poetry and photography.

If none of this takes place, there is still more than a month before the awards ceremony. The closest friends and comrades of the Laureate, who have been with him through all of the hardship, should be allowed to go to Oslo. But if the authorities ignore all these calls and no one on Liu Xia’s list is permitted to go abroad through the proper procedures, it happens that I am in Canada now for an academic conference.

To comfort Xiaobo in prison and Liu Xia under house arrest, and for all who are on Liu Xia’s list – those who are either under police surveillance or in custody or warned to behave during a forced “tea conversation with the police,” or worse, those “wearing a wig” (a term to describe those hooded and taken away by the security police) – then I shall tell the world that it is not true that no Chinese citizen who fights against authoritarianism will be able to attend the grand ceremony in Oslo. If necessary, I will go there to fulfill my duty to my friend.

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