Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 10 October 2010

Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel prize: Will there be a boycott of Norwegian Wood?

The Chinese government condemned Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel prize swiftly, but with relatively little publicity: the main page of Xinhua today, for instance, does not mention Liu. But “patriotic youth” on the Web have already proposed to boycott a series of Norwegian brands in response to this new “insult to the feelings of Chinese people.” This call was circulated on other sites with the ironic comment: “Never heard? Never mind. … In the worst case, there is always Norwegian Wood” (the Haruki Murakami novel, not the Simon and Garfunkel song).

On a more serious, though equally ridiculous note, a blog post on Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV’s server — which has, curiously, been removed since — claimed to reveal a secret protocol appended to the Nobel Peace Prize committee’s decision. The purported original text is reproduced in English, but written so ungrammatically that some parts are unintelligible. For example: “you did not hesitate to sell the interests of their country of birth, perseverance and original material to attack the communist regime.” It purports to praise Liu for fighting for the revaluation of the yuan and for carving China up into 300 colonies. The author of the post further alleges that the Nobel committee acted under U.S. pressure and cites its history of rewarding the Russian dissident physicist Saharov for starting the “colour revolutions” (in reality, the term was invented some ten years after Saharov’s death), Gorbachev for undermining the Soviet Union, Gao Xingjian for demonising China, and so on. Jiang Yanyong, the retired doctor who was the whistleblower on China’s SARS epidemic, an AIDS activist, and Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer are added to the evidence since, according to the post, they have all received Nobel nominations.

But there were also semi-public celebrations. Messages on Minjian International, a Hong Kong-based NGO focusing on China’s overseas activities and without a dissident agenda, reported that banquets were organised in at least five cities, and some of the participants were detained. At Shandong University and Beijing Normal University, banners were reportedly hung in Liu’s honour.

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