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As expected, today’s editions of Beijing-based newspapers brim with anti-Nobel Peace Prize editorials fuming about Western insults to China. Here’s a sampling:

“Insult of the Nobel Peace Prize” at China Daily; be sure to check out the comments it attracted – more than 335 so far. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-12/10/content_11680595.htm

“Human Rights Day,” a stupendously self-serving piece of propaganda designed to counter criticism of China’s record in this regard. The timing of its publication today is no accident. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-12/10/content_11685277.htm

“Liu’s Nobel ignores China’s true human rights progress,” which includes a  lie so brazen it is breathtaking: “The 1.3 billion people in China are the ones who have the utmost legitimate right to speak on these issues.” Of course – as long as they don’t mention freedom of speech, democracy or human rights as anything but conspiracies of Western cultural imperialism. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-12/10/content_11685884.htm

If you can take any more, the following links to the Global Times and People’s Daily provide more along the same lines: http://www.globaltimes.cn/

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/

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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, imprisoned Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, has been silenced and punished for years because he spoke out in favor of free speech and an end to one-party rule in China. The picture of an empty chair at the award ceremony today speaks eloquently about Liu’s oppression, and his own words about banishing hatred from his country are astonishing evidence of why the Chinese government feared the power of his public proclamations. For a translation into English of Liu’s final address to the court that sentenced him to 11 years in prison, go to this link at the China Digital Times, a project of the journalism school at the University of California in Berkeley: http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2010/02/liu-xiaobo-i-have-no-enemies-my-final-statement/#

With two days to go before the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to an imprisoned Chinese democracy activist, newspapers in Beijing have resumed their condemnation of the decision. While doing so, a column in China Daily parrots two of the regime’s most cherished myths: that the Chinese enjoy a “harmonious and stable society” run by a “democratic leadership, led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and farmers.”

“Harmonious and stable” are euphemisms for the unquestioned dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party, none of whose members belong to the “working class.” Instead, they enjoy privileges and comforts that most workers can only dream about. And if workers and farmers ever did get organized enough to form an alliance, you can bet that the powers in Beijing would sic the People’s Army on them faster than you can say Liu Xiaobo. 

Nonetheless, responses to the column make for interesting reading. Check it out here: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-12/08/content_11667718.htm

Meanwhile, the Global Times has weighed in with a typical rant positing that Norway and other Western countries choose to ignore China’s economic progress, a point which ignores the fact that the Peace Prize is awarded for work that enhances human rights. It also claims “dozens” of countries will boycott the ceremony in support of China, when in fact as of today not even two dozen (19) have announced they will do so. This could easily have been discovered by Googling the term “Nobel boycott,” but of course in China the Great Firewall probably blocks access to any website that mentions the Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s a link to the editorial: http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/editorial/2010-12/599717.html

After a spate of hysterical denunciations about interference in Chinese affairs and cultural imperialism, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony slated for this Friday (Dec. 10) is now being greeted in Chinese media with a thunderous silence. No doubt propaganda authorities have ordered news media not to mention imprisoned Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is serving 11 years in prison for advocating freedom of speech, an act considered to be subversion.

One of the biggest frustrations I felt while working at a newspaper in Beijing was the terribly limited scope for reporting available to Chinese reporters, and their unwillingness to challenge that. This helps explain why Chinese reporters are risk-aversive: A professor at Peking University, the country’s top school, says journalists are a public nuisance who ought to be lined up and shot.

Perhaps he was trying to outdo a public security official who said his department would sue any journalist whose work called into question the reputation of police.  Both speakers singled out the media owners of the two boldest news publications in China, Southern Metropolis Daily and Southern Weekly. They produce exposes about wrongdoing and corruption by people in power, the kind of reporting that is routine in countries that enjoy genuine press freedom but rare and dangerous in China.  Here’s a link to a blog post describing the threats these two people made towards reporters:  http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/12/06/8762/

Despite the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, the Public Broadcasting Service cut parts of a speech by comedian Tina Fey, whose imitations of political gadfly Sarah Palin skewer the Alaskan politician. As she accepted the 2010 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Fey joked about Palin’s political views. Those jokes, however, weren’t broadcast. A PBS producer claimed they were cut only because the speech was too long.

The cuts PBS made also violate its own editorial standards, the first of which includes “shielding the creative and editorial processes from political pressure or improper influence from funders or other sources.” Finally, they dishonor the man for whom the prize was named. Mark Twain’s writing also used humor to skew powerful people and entrenched ideas because “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

The only crime worse than government-imposed censorship is self-imposed censorship in a country whose guarantee of free speech can actually be exercised.

Today’s New York Times includes an article about the Beijing trial of an artist, whose supporters say is being punished for a public protest last February along the capital’s most important street. As is typical, not a word of this appears in China’s top three English-language news dailies. It’s a common experience for Beijingers to read about local events in news media published thousands of miles away because Chinese propaganda authorities censor their publication or broadcast on the mainland.

It’s a good bet no report of the trial is available in Chinese languages, either, unless it’s an attack on the defendant, who is charged with assaulting five policemen. The defendant, Wu Yuren, was among two dozen artists who demonstrated along Chang’an Avenue against the forced demolition of their studios to make way for a real estate development project. Chang’an is Beijing’s major ceremonial boulevard. Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the heavily guarded residential district for Party leaders are located on it. It is also the site of major Party spectacles such as the huge military parade in 2009 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the successful Communist revolution in China.

For an explanation of forced demolitions, see “Combating corruption online” on the Columns page or at this link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/metro/2010-03/09/content_9591722.htm

Here’s a link to the Times’ article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/world/asia/18beijing.html?hp