China Nobel laureate wife fears going 'crazy': activists
Washington (AFP) Feb 22, 2011
The wife of China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo said she was "going to go crazy" under house arrest, human rights advocates said Tuesday.
Liu Xia was placed under house arrest in October after the Norwegian committee announced the prestigious award for her husband, a writer who authored a bold petition for political reform in communist-ruled China.
While she has not been seen in public since, the PEN American Center, group of writers who support human rights, said she briefly accessed the Internet during the Chinese Lunar New Year.
She sent a message to a friend saying that "she and her family were being held hostage by the government and that she was 'going to go crazy'" in her Beijing apartment, the center said in a statement.
The New York-based PEN American Center expressed concern about the treatment of Liu Xia, along with the recent disappearances of rights activists amid a web campaign that urged protests in China to mark recent revolts in the Middle East.
"These persistent attacks on the fundamental freedoms of China's own citizens threaten the prospects for good relations with those of us who have the privilege of living in free societies," said Kwame Anthony Appiah, the center's president.
"It seems to me that the Chinese government has drawn the wrong lesson from the wave of resistance to oppression they can see on their televisions in Africa and the Middle East. The right lesson is that the voices of the people need to be heard," said Appiah, a cultural theorist who has written about ways to force social change.
Liu, a former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas Day in 2009 on subversion charges after co-authoring the "Charter 08" petition.
According to a Hong Kong rights group, Liu Xia was allowed to leave her home to dine with her elderly parents when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Washington last month but has been again placed under strict surveillance.
earlier related report
"The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have spread in the Middle East, and some in the West want China to become 'the next Egypt'. This is simply impossible," said the English-language Global Times.
The commentaries hinted at growing official concern among China's Communist rulers over the potential for Arab-style unrest -- which has been facilitated by the use of the Internet -- to trigger similar uprisings in China.
Police in Beijing, Shanghai, and elsewhere came out in force Sunday after Internet and mobile phone text messages apparently originating from overseas Chinese activists called for protests in more than 10 major cities.
In the end, only a handful of demonstrators came forward at designated protest sites in response to the call for a Chinese "Jasmine Revolution" -- the term coined for the upheaval in Tunisia that sparked the Middle East unrest.
The Global Times, which is directed at an overseas audience and is known for its strident anti-Western tone, said "a few people drew attention to themselves through 'performance art'".
"But their push for a 'revolution' will falter, as the public is opposed to it," it said.
"These people, however, are like beggars in the streets -- they never fade away while the rest of the country moves forward," it added, taking a swipe at a tiny activist community that China vilifies as a threat to social stability.
However, the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily -- which is directed at a domestic audience -- took a more measured tone, acknowledging China faces a potential tinderbox of social concerns linked to its growing pains.
These include public displeasure over inflation, land disputes, a widening wealth gap, and rampant official corruption -- concerns similar to those that sparked the troubles in the Arab world.
"Many believe that China will emerge from its period of social transformation in a steady and peaceful manner," an editorial said.
"But... it is not totally unfeasible that the nation could fall into social turmoil should its public governance fail."
The editorial went on to chastise unspecified domestic critics for not supporting the government.
"Some argue that their mission is to criticise. Such a perspective is one-sided, and even becomes an excuse for irresponsible elements," it said.
A domino effect of political upheaval that began in Tunisia has spread across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling presidents in Tunisia and Egypt and sparking unrest in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere.
China has heavily censored or blocked media reports and Internet searches about the unrest.
Such restrictions remained in place on Monday, including blocks on Internet searches for the Chinese word for "jasmine".
China has a huge Internet censorship system that blocks content deemed objectionable by the ruling Communist Party.
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Beijing (AFP) Feb 21, 2011
Like many Arab nations, China has one-party rule, corruption and soaring food prices - but experts say that its stunning record of economic success militates against pressure for revolutionary change. A fear of social chaos among a population who suffered through the Cultural Revolution and the feeling that there is a better future, even under the current political system, also make revolt ... read more
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