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Peace on Earth?
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The Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 was awarded to Liu Xiaobo last week, in absentia. He was singled out for the prize because “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” China, however, was highly displeased and strongly suggested that other nations abstain from attending the award ceremonies. Even so, of 65 countries with embassies in Norway’s capital, 53 accepted invitations to the event.

In China, Liu has been jailed since last Christmas for subversion. The former professor took part in the Tianemen Square protests in 1989 and was a coauthor of Charter 08, a manifesto for human rights and democracy in China.

Within China, news of the award and broadcasts of the ceremony were blocked, dissidents were detained, and Liu’s family and associates were not allowed out of the country.

The implied and actual economic retribution exerted by China on countries in the past is a reminder that China does have economic clout, which has grown considerably, but also that other countries of the world are still independent and willing to take a stand on issues.

Trade with other countries and increasing prosperity have inched China politically toward becoming more democratic and economically toward a free market system, but neither outcome is certain.

I don’t know that the world as a whole has ever been a truly peaceful place. Conflicts between countries and within countries during the past 50 years have left millions dead, and many more likely will die in ongoing hostilities. Still, we would like to think that world peace is possible, and all steps toward that end should be encouraged.

We wish you a joyous holiday season and a prosperous, and peaceful, new year.

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