The Nobel Peace Prize goes astray

Print E-mail, October 19, 2010
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The decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to give this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo is a gross interference in China's internal affairs. Even Western scholars have questioned the makeup of the Nobel Committee and whether it is acting independently and respecting Alfred Nobel's will. As for the Chinese people, the decision of the committee has confirmed to them that the Nobel Peace Prize has gone astray.

One hundred years ago, Alfred Nobel laid down specific criteria for awarding the Peace Prize. The Peace Prize should be given to the person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." These standards demonstrate Nobel's commitment to the cause of world peace.

But the Peace Prize has become controversial in recent decades because of a perception that committee members are imposing their personal political views on the prize, and leading it away from the original purpose set out in Alfred Nobel's will.

Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer who has conducted a careful study of Mr. Nobel's will and a thorough evaluation of Nobel Peace Prizes awarded over the past 100 years, claims the current Nobel Committee chooses winners to make political points and not to support Nobel's intention to encourage the abolition or reduction of standing armies. In the past 21 years, the Nobel Committee has given the Peace Prize to two Chinese people: the Dalai Lama and Liu Xiaobo. The former is a secessionist committed to undermining ethnic solidarity and splitting the country; the latter is serving a prison sentence for subversion. Neither meets the criteria set out by Alfred Nobel. Heffermehl said in a recent interview that it was quite improper to give the Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Examples of Liu Xiaobo's past thoughts include "China should be colonized for 300 years," and "China should be split into 18 countries." He is not a "fighter for peace" but a criminal engaged in subversion.

Nobel said in his will that the members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee should be elected. But the Norwegian Parliament simply shares out the five seats between the main Norwegian political parties. In effect, this has turned the Nobel Peace Prize into a Norwegian parliamentary award.

Most of the Nobel Committee members are veteran Cold War politicians who are used to observing the world through politically tinted glasses. They pay no attention to Nobel's intentions - which were to use the prize to promote peace - and are full of prejudice against emerging countries like China. The decisions of such a committee are bound to reflect its ideological color.

21 years ago, the President of the Nobel Committee said they wanted put pressure on China by giving the Nobel peace prize to the Dalai Lama. It is the same this time round.

In recent years, Western politicians, experts and NGOs hostile to China have taken to intensely lobbying the Nobel Committee, impressing on committee members where their "responsibility" lies. Nicholas Troy Nowitzki, a Russian political commentator, says the politicization of the Peace Prize has reached extremes, with all sorts of deals and trade-offs being done behind the scenes. Of course once this year's award was announced, Western politicians lined up to denounce China with one voice.

Lacking all independence, the Nobel Peace Prize has become a political tool of the West and seems doomed to suffer further politicization in the future.

(The article is first published in Chinese and translated by Chen Xia and Lin Liyao)

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