Beijing’s vitriolic response to Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel peace prize award has highlighted the ruling Communist Party’s refusal to brook any dissent, even from advocates of peaceful, evolutionary reform.
Some insight into the Orwellian distortions of the party’s formidable propaganda apparatus will go to distort the truth was gained at a recent Capitol Hill hearing on political reform organized by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
Pro-government periodicals and websites recently published a scathing critique of the National Endowment for Democracy written by Zhejiang University professor Liu Guozhu, the hearing was told, denouncing the organization as a relic of the Cold War.
Bruce Gilley, a political science professor at Portland State University, discovered that the original article, based on the author’s research as a visiting academic in the US, had in fact commended the NED’s role in promoting democracy in Latin America, Africa and East Asia. But it could not be published until after party editors rewrote the paper to misrepresent and pervert the author’s view.
“This is a microcosm of contemporary China – the exterior face can seem oppositional, bellicose, and deeply illiberal,” Gilley told the hearing. “But the interior mind is swirling, changing, seeking acceptance and humanistic.”
The authorities’ obsession with Liu Xiaobo was evident this week when a dissident blogger was sentenced to a year of hard labor in a “re-education” camp for “disrupting social order” by resending a satirical Twitter message.
Cheng Jianping was prosecuted after retweeting a message sent by her fiance Hua Chunhui ironically urging anti-Japanese protesters to wreck a section of the Shanghai Expo.
“This sentencing wasn’t about this one statement. The government wants to make an example of us activists,” said Hua. “The government doesn’t like what we do. We actively communicate with other Chinese activists and celebrated on Twitter Liu Xiaobo‘s Nobel Prize.”