Nobel peace prize hijacked by the West

Published: October 13, 2010

Was the Chinese dissident really the best candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize?

This Nobel for Peace has all the ingredients of war.

A minority, handful of Western countries, enjoying media supremacy, ganged up on a rising non-Western power, while the world’s majority nations—Russia, Brazil, Latin America, Turkey, Pakistan, the Middle East, and even India, which fancies itself as counterweight to China, all ignored the politicised award.

Nobody had heard before about Liu Xiaobo, the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for Peace. In 1989, he was one of dozens others jailed for organising so-called ‘pro-democracy’ demonstrations. At the time, China’s burgeoning population needed jobs, healthcare, housing and schooling. Had the demos succeeded, China would have spun out of control, pretty much like Russia did in the 1990s and Pakistan is doing these days. Luckily, Beijing had wise nationalist rulers at the time and China went on over the next two decades to become one of the most impressive rags-to-riches stories. It achieved all this without following the Western model of IMF/World Bank recipes and political science theories taught at Harvard and Oxford.

Mr. Liu never mattered

He was jailed for 20 months in 1989 and then left to lead a normal life. He watched Beijing grow into an international city. He once tried to organise a hunger strike to mark an anniversary of the events in 1989 and was stopped by Chinese authorities. Ordinary Chinese people never heard of him. Even the Chinese government never saw him as a threat. He was allowed freedom of movement, even the right to leave China, but not to indulge in activities meant to disturb social stability and peace in a country where people have been busy making money and improving the quality of their lives. Until recently, he was meeting American, British and Australian journalists in Beijing and giving interviews without any restrictions from Chinese authorities because, frankly, nobody cared.

This Nobel prize has been given to create a nuisance for China under the guise of “universal values.” It is starkly political and its aim is barely hidden. But the best part of this prize is its timing. While the prize was being awarded to a Chinese dissident, China’s premier Wen Jiabao was concluding a whirlwind tour of Europe that set the alarm bells ringing in Washington.

The Americans watched in shock as their European allies rolled out the red carpet for China. For example, in Italy, Europe’s most famous building, Rome’s Colosseum, was bathed in red as a salute to China. Italian leaders vowed to take bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2015.

In an address to the Greek parliament in Athens, Mr. Wen sounded a strong note of support for Europe’s economies.

I am convinced that a strong Europe is irreplaceable,” he said to Greek legislators on October 2. “China wants to promote and strengthen strategic links with the European Union.” He said China would “support the stability of the euro” and Beijing would “not reduce the amount of European bonds that are part of the Chinese foreign exchange reserves.

American officials were further antagonized to see the European Union ‘bowing’ to Chinese requests on media access during EU-China summit on 5 and 6 October. Just as Mr. Wen prepared to end his Europe tour and return home, Sweden’s Nobel Foundation came out with this surprise award for a Chinese citizen whose only claim to fame is opposing his government on idealistic grounds.

No brownie points here for guessing who benefited the most from these developments. The Russian media was the first to condemn the Nobel award as a ‘political tool.’

The timing of this anti-Chinese move is important. It comes at a time when the mainstream US media is full of anti-China demonization during mid-term election campaigning.

The American political website has noted this week that ‘Ad attacks on China cross the line’ during this campaign season. Another site,, has described the anti-China mood in the US as follows:

With less than a month before Election Day, Americans are being whipped up into a xenophobic froth. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal headlined a story “China-Bashing Gains Bipartisan Support”, noting that “China is emerging as a bogeyman… with candidates across the American political spectrum seizing on anxieties about the country’s growing economic might to pummel each other on trade, outsourcing and the deficit.

Here is a sample of anti-China political ads being shown these days to ordinary Americans. You can see the other ads listed by Spin Season here.

The Indian lobby in the United States, supported by Indian government and India’s sympathisers in Washington DC, are also using this election season to shift the American public’s anger away from India on the question of outsourcing jobs. The Indian government had become alarmed at how India-bashing was becoming common in major US media. Indian groups are at the forefront of funding the campaign to paint China as the real enemy who’s gobbling up American jobs.

The extent to how politicized this award is can also be gauged from the definition of the prize as put down by Alfred Nobel in his will. More than a century ago, Mr. Nobel wrote that the Peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Hardly a description befitting the Nobel committee’s choice for this year.

China’s population is receiving world-class healthcare, education and opportunities for prosperity. One day, China’s educated people will have a working, non-chaotic democracy tailored to suit China’s conditions and designed to grow with Chinese needs, not a democracy that the West could use as a Trojan horse to meddle in its affairs. The Nobel Foundation, Mr. Liu and the United States have no right to interfere.

The Nobel for Peace 2010 should be seen for what it is: a cheap, below-the-belt political hit disguised as a peace award.

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:

Corrections: October 14, 2010

The story incorrectly cited the the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in Belgium.


Ahmed Quraishi

The author is a journalist and a public policy professional, with government & private sector experience across Pakistan and the Middle East. He tweets @Office_AQPk (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    Dear Writer,

    These international issues doesn’t bother me these days as my own country is drowned.

    Please think about our country before creating international conspiracy theories.


  • Babur Mughal

    Hats off Ahmed. Don’t alway agree with your all of yourviews on everything but this is a marvellous, well reasoned, step-by-step expose of how international relations is a complicated business that doesn’t differ much from sixth-grade bully tactics we used to see in school.Recommend

  • Amina

    In 1989, he was one of dozens others jailed for organizing so-called ‘pro-democracy’ demonstrations. At the time, China’s burgeoning population needed jobs, healthcare, housing and schooling. Had the demos succeeded, China would have spun out of control, pretty much like Russia did in the 1990s and Pakistan is doing these days. Luckily, Beijing had wise nationalist rulers at the time and China went on over the next two decades to become one of the most impressive rags-to-riches stories. It achieved all this without following the Western model of IMF/World Bank recipes and political science theories taught at Harvard and Oxford…..Sweden’s Nobel Foundation came out with this surprise award for a Chinese citizen whose only claim to fame is opposing his government on idealistic grounds.

    Buahahahhaha! Mr. Quraishi, you are a funny one! Roughly translated: Xiaobo was a lunatic who was protesting for a democratic system and was rightfully jailed for such atrocious demands by China’s nationalist and restrictive policies who were more inclined towards keeping a closed society (then and now) and have the BEST of lives available to them (if you ignore how heavily monitored and censored their access to information is, but who cares!) and besides, who even CARES about idealistic idiots?!

    Mr. Quraishi, much as you are ignorant of facts, the Nobel Peace award goes to people who have actively worked for just that – promoting peace. Now if you actually expect someone to form regional blocs to define ‘fraternity’ or expect them to actually create X number of ‘congresses’ you’re going to never find any such examples. By that logic Edhi will never be nominated or considered, something which has been actively pushed for. Secondly, Xiaobo has been an academic, played an active part in the Tianamen Square protests where students were killed (but that was people protesting in an authoritarian regime.. I don’t think you quite like the idea), and has actively supported democratic practices, and is currently imprisoned for 11 years for challenging authority by doing so. THAT is why he’s been given the award. Mother Teresa was irrelevant to you, but she got the award. Maybe if you wonder WHY dissent from the highly controlled country of China is always awarded instead of screaming about conspiracies, you’d understand. If you’re demanding freedom from dictatorship of COURSE you’d be breaking the law.

    China is a good neighbor, yes, but please don’t let your ridiculous ideas blind you as to how repressive their government is and at times how ridiculous about protesting ‘Western’ values. Recommend

  • http://na prasad

    Your good friend Zaid Hamid would thoroughly approve as to how you worked the Indian lobby into your argument. Very recently he worked the same notorious lobby into the Afia case – something about Indian students in MIT.

    As Indians and Pakistanis – wallowing as we are in administrative ineptitude – it is difficult not to admire the Chinese model. I am a fan – they have lifted millions out of poverty while India’s poverty levels seem to get worse by the day.

    However I will ask you for a minute to imagine that the government has forced you to have only one child. Also imagine the hesitation felt by a lab worker in the USA in criticising the Chinese government for fear that a co-worker may be an informer. I dont know if you have seen Chinese workers in a factory. Today population is on their side so their employers can behave like their counterparts in 19th century europe. Thomas Friedman (yes – your pet peeve – an india-loving Jewish writer – the holy confluence of raw-mossad and cia) described china best when he said that the country is like a smooth highway with a huge speed breaker in the distance that could jeopardise everything. China would be well advised to listen to the Nobel committee. Recommend

  • Babur Mughal

    @Amina: I think u r confused. This is not about dissent being right or wrong, this is about China’s prime minister making a breakthrough in Europe only to be ‘ambushed’ by Nobel committee and timed with massive anti-China hate creation thru media during the current US mid term electioneering.

    Your view is just a viewpoint open to debate and not the last word. Just because this Chinese dissident knows how to spell the word democracy and a few Americans n brits praise him doesnt make everything about him right. You need to question the whole context and not just the news itself.Recommend

  • Salman Sher

    Good Job.Recommend

  • Anoop

    This dude is completely missing the point. He is either biased or plain stupid.

    China is a wonderful country. It has grown leaps and bounds in the past many years. It has a rich tradition. All that is very good and worth emulating.

    “Ordinary Chinese people never heard of him. Even the Chinese government never saw him as a threat.”

    China maintains a very tight, short leash on its media. Even if this is true then this is a very poor argument. If China does not feel threatened by Liu then why has it banned all the newspapers links referring to this guy,mainly non-Chinese websites?

    This Liu guy is locked up in China for a period of 11 years for what? For getting people to sign on a document which asks for Media freedom, political freedom,etc. Pakistanis know better than most how valuable freedom is having many dictators in its past.

    “The Indian lobby in the United States, supported by Indian government and India’s sympathisers in Washington DC, are also using this election season to shift the American public’s anger away from India on the question of outsourcing jobs.”

    Wha… ! This one was a shocker. I didnt know India had a lobby! Who manages that lobby? Who is the president, Chairman or how to get membership of that lobby?

    It seems according to the writer anything against China or Pakistan is bad but the opposite is good. What rubbish piece of writing.

    P.S. Western world was the first to give large amounts of money to Pakistan before it embarrassed China to donate a few dollars. Pakistan has been living off of West’s money for ages. What a way to repay the people who helped Pakistan survive.Recommend

  • lalit

    such utter disregard for democratic sentiments,no doubt democracy is in shambles in Pakistan today.same fellow would go an extra mile in telling us how important a plebiscite is in J and k.whatever growth and development China has recorded is despite of being anti democracy,not due to it. this is due to democratic credentials of US and west that Pakistan’s double games(accepting aids and helping taliban)are being tolerated.try this ever with communist China ? Recommend

  • rehan

    You forgot to mention the Jewish lobby; Indian lobby cant do it alone. A conspiracy theory must include all those elements which arent popular in Pakistan. And these days, why not add Blackwater to spice things upRecommend

  • kalakawa

    Dear Ahmad Quraishi,

    I don’t really want to get into a detailed response to your piece, since I couldn’t get past your drivel on how Pakistan is currently suffering due to the democratic dispensation in the country right now.

    However, after having diligently research for a while (read: a simple Google search and a read-up on Wikipedia) I have learnt that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo. Oslo, NORWAY. Not Belgium.

    You’re welcome. Recommend

  • Edel

    Can someone please tell the writer that Belgium has nothing to do with Nobel Prize? It is awarded in Oslo, Norway. Recommend

  • parvez

    Why was Obama given the Nobel Peace Prize ?Recommend

  • hussain

    well said.Recommend

  • Weng Chin

    The Nobel prize is no longer what it is anymore . its just like the UN and Like the UN its a political tool for conspiracy and interference via manipulations. Its all a farce with double standards. Never trust them . Recommend

  • Babur Mughal


    “Sweden’s Nobel Foundation came out with this surprise award …”

    Ahmed’s piece clearly mentions Sweden. ‘Belgium’ could be an honest mistake.

    I am more concerned about your state of mind. This piece has riled you so much you can find nothing else to argue except finding typos. While mentioning ‘Belgium’ you could have also pointed out that Sweden is clearly mentioned later in the piece. But no, you have to show mediocrity in a highbrow discussion. Recommend

  • Babur Mughal

    “‎2012 Nobel Prize will be paid in Chinese Yuan…”

    A quote from Ghias Ahmed, an enlightened and educated Pakistani, posted at Facebook.Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    Dear Moderator,

    Please DO NOT allow personal attacks between two guys above.


  • Mehr

    Nobel prize lost its credibility long back.

    Many a times its being given for political reasons and regional influence.Recommend

  • Anoop

    “Nobel prize lost its credibility long back”

    Ya probably the reason Pakistan disrespected its only Nobel Prize winner long back. Not because he is belongs to a particular sect or anything! Nobel Prize is a nothing prize. Pakistanis should refuse downright any Nobel prize if (small chance) is given to them. Or, should boycott anyone who receives them like they did to Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize winner. He is such a sellout!Recommend

  • Hasan

    Can someone please tell the writer
    that Belgium has nothing to do with
    Nobel Prize? It is awarded in Oslo,


  • Younas khan

    I think and believe that in now a days noble prize is just a kind of politices how can u define that Obama was deserve for noble prize it’s just a political game and ….Recommend

  • RSG

    This article is pretty much entirely comprised of non-sequiturs. Not sure what American anti-Chinese sentiment has to do with the Nobel Prize–the prize is not granted by the U.S. government or even a U.S.-based agency. You also forgot to mention Charter 08 in your article. That’s what he was given the peace prize for. Seriously, just Google it or read Liu’s Wikipedia entry. It would be a good start before writing an article on someone you clearly haven’t researched at all.Recommend

  • jigrota

    oh come on!!

    Nobel Price for Peace is definitely not given by US government/agency
    and thats definitely not what the author implied there. The committee is influenced by political views that might not be in coherence with the Chinese standards but it takes US as the torch bearer of human rights and democracy. But should that be the touchstone, i mean seriously the Bush tenure and more darkness if you see into the past US presidents.

    The history of the Peace prize is definitely enough to have it earn a bad reputation in sense that people like Henry Kissinger can get it it. So much for the peace.

    Wait isnt Alfred Nobel the person who invented Dynamite!! WOWRecommend

  • jigrota

    Salam was a good guy in a bad company.
    Being an Indian, you definitely dont know much on this issue to pass a comment.Recommend

  • Professor Ali

    People should take a few minutes and research all the Nobel awards being given over the last ~ 10 years. Unfortunately I see a trend where some of the receipients are below-par compared to their fellow Nobel prize winners a few decades ago. This is not just restricted to the Nobel peace prize which is a highly controversial prize anyways, but even the latest Physics prize given for graphene has been given immaturely (for those who know the details and can compare to previous awards in this Nanotech related category)

    My fellow Indians will not be able to understand the concept of “creating FITNA in society” and I seriously don’t have the time to explain; however, my fellow Pakistanis should try to understand that the peace prize should not be given for creating FITNA. People like Liu, Shireen Ebadi etc are FITNA creators. If you think they are fighting for human rights, please correct yourself and realize that they are fighting for a set or rights that are alien to their society. And why is it always that these Nobel winners are fighting for the same socio-political system that is dear to the west? This is why people call them ‘agents’ ….. and if they are not agents then they should distance themselves from the west so that in their own people’s eyes their mission does not seem to be hijacked by the west. After all, if you’re fighting for reform for your people, then are your own people more dear to you or a seat in Harvard/Oxford/etc?Recommend

  • lalit

    alfred nobel did invent dynamite but,dynamite being an explosive is not exclusively used for killing and maiming mankind as your comment seems to indicate.being a Pakistani you seem to more familiar with this aspect of dynamite is not uncommon.dynamite is now a days used extensively in industrial purposes like mining,construction of tunnels and roads in rocky terrain.btw inventing dynamite does’nt seem to be a shameful act to me ,as humans have invented deadlier modes of killing ,leaving behind dynamite mainly for peaceful purposes.Recommend

  • jigrota

    Correct, dynamite has peaceful means but a peace prize coming from a dynamite inventor is definitely an oxymoron to say the least.

    What matters is Alfred Nobel’s initial intent to go into such a particular research and that can be very well sensed by the very people who were financing his research at that time. Immediately after the success this and the gun powder was being ordered in huge numbers around the world particularly by the British Empire who was doing conquests all around the world at that time and found it very useful in the their grimmy plans. So there are a lot of question marks here if you do an honest research.Recommend

  • jigrota

    being a Pakistani you seem to more familiar with this aspect of dynamite is not uncommon.

    lol atleast im not more familiar with roaming dogs, slums and filth from CWG than you guys.Recommend

  • Anoop


    “Salam was a good guy in a bad company.”

    Kindly enlighten me which was that bad company, please.

    Dr.Salam was discriminated because of his sect. Nothing else. His crime was calling himself a Muslim in a country which institutionally discriminates against the Ahmadiya community. The country was meant to protect Muslims. Look what is happening now.Recommend

  • Babur Mughal

    “Liu had often been allowed to operate freely…”

    Says Wei Jingsheng, a Chinese dissident who also criticized Nobel Committee’s choice. His argument is that Liu was never harassed or jailed enough by his govt to deserve the award. It proves what this post says, that Liu wasn’t really harassed or jailed much and he was allowed to move and travel freely and meet foreign journalists wihtout hindrance. This Tribune post has been vindicated. See Recommend

  • Babur Mughal

    I’m astonished at the number of Indians commenting here. This is a Pakistani news website talking about how a Norwegian award was unfairly given to a Chinese convict. What’s it got to do with Indians? I have two advices: 1) You have a bigger mess in India and the world’s largest concentration of poverty and allied diseases. Plz spend your energies there, and 2) Here’s a Pakistani news website giving you a chance to write against China on our website. In comparison, Pakistani commentators are immediately banned from posting at any najor Indian news website. Shows how open the Pakistani media is in comparison. But I still believe Indians shouldn’t be allowed to badmouth others on our sites if they can’t tolerate Pakistanis commenting on their sites.Recommend

  • lalit

    bro, i would prefer roaming dogs,slums and filth from CWG anyday to teens blowing themselves,just to prove a futile point.can you figure out that desperation which forces a budding life into a source of death and destruction. Recommend

  • lalit

    and btw nobel prize is not exclusively awarded for the peace efforts,it is also awarded for meritorious work in literature, physics,chemistry,medicine and economics.more Chinese people have won this prize in other disciplines than so called biased PEACE discipline.Recommend

  • parvez

    @Babur Mughal – Disagree with you. on the point of our Indian friends commenting on our web site. More often than not their comments are positive and work as an eye opener for us.
    Even when their comments are biased, we should be able to discern this for ourselves. and either give a logical reply or simply let it go. After all it’s a blog and all sorts of comments are thrown about.Recommend

  • Umair Dar

    Nobel Prize is a shame, this prize only go to America’s enemies: Iran, China ….

    In 1989, he was given the “Nobel Peace Prize” at the 14 th Dalai Lama.
    In 2000 he was given the Nobel Prize in Literature to Gao Xingjan, and writer who wa…s then a French citizen and opposition to China.
    In 2010 was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize” to another dissident who, after having lived in the U.S. and taught at Columbia University, he returned to China “quickly” to participate in the revolt (just pafcífica) of Tiananmen Square.
    In 2003 Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi Iranian dissident.

    And while both Israel and the U.S. mascran, torture, murder and commit the worst atrocities of recent times. A bit of seriousness.Recommend

  • jigrota

    firstly quit calling me bro, thats literally annoying.
    bombers or their mentors can definitely cross borders and they were never here until Indian influence started growing in border regions of Afghanistan (around 2005).
    I think the topic here was the peace award not the the award from other committees, and if you are really hare that stubborn on setting records straight for them, reply to Professor Ali instead.
    And start replying to all the points raised in a post instead.


  • jigrota

    Dr.Salam was discriminated because of his sect. Nothing else.
    Thats your understanding which is limited to its sources on internet.There were bigger conspiracies being hatched up for the people he was close to were involved in squeezing a space in establishment and to ultimately do some power play that was in no way good for the muslim majority.We were never born as a secular country and we will never be inshallah.Recommend

  • jigrota

    you were concerned about other categories being un-biased; here you go some winners i have in my knowledge.

    Orhan Pamuk – .Severely HATED in Turkey at this time. Claimed in 2005 that
    “one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey”
    received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

    Muhamad Yunus: Is considered a thug today for all the loans and the money he earned in return looting people of any little savings they had.

    In 2006 he was given the nobel prize for the idea
    Loans to poor people without any financial security
    which was a big scam if you ask a Bangladeshi.

    And there are many many controversial awards given in the Physics category for some reason or another.Recommend

  • J

    I agree with Muhammad Zeeshan. Stick to what you know about your country and culture.

    This paper should be titled, ” I know nothing about Chinese political dissidents , therefore no one else does”

    Truly a weak presentation. Yet , you have the right to write such slur. Something that most people can not enjoy….like Liu Xiaobo?Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    The credibility of Nobel Prize for Peace will only be restored if itis awarded to LeT (Jammat Ul Dawa) and their clones. If not that atleast to PLA of China for keeping the world peace or the ruling Military Junta of BurmaRecommend

  • Tony Singh

    @Babur Mughal
    You find so many Indians on this site because it is on the net. If the ET wanted only Pakistanis to comment, then thay would not have put this on the net or would have made accessable only to Pakistanis. Clearly they wish the world to read and comment. It makes a good business sense apart from adding to credibility to the paper.Recommend

  • Tyrone Tellis

    Hmm perhaps the peace prize should have gone to the General in charge of murdering 1,000 Chinese in 1989?

    Or perhaps to the heatl officials who carry out forced abortions of women trying to have more than 1 child.

    There have been more undeserving recipients- Obama, Arafat come to mind.

    Alfred Nobel invented dynamite but later he wanted to leave a positive legacy too so he created the Nobel foundation.Recommend

  • Mike Sullivan

    I agree with the author’s point on the West using the Nobel prize to serve its own agendas. I agree that quite a few of their peace prize winners have not contributed much to World peace, in some cases quite the contrary.

    I also cannot help but nod to Mr Mughal’s suggestion. Indians who think they are on Pakistani websites to add credibility to our media should have the courtesy to write to their own editors about not automatically blocking comments and opinions from the other side of the electronic border.Recommend

  • http://BBC Salam

    Nobel Peace Prize !Recommend