So who the heck is Liu Xiaobo, whom the ruling elites in China are so afraid of, like he’s some kind of flood (“hongshui”) or beast (“mengshou”)? To be honest, it’s NOT whether what Liu advocated (democracy or whatever) was good or bad for the country or its people, it’s the sheer act of speaking one’s mind without the fear of being persecuted that matters.
The truth is, Liu Xiaobo is just another “shusheng” (intellectual) caught on the wrong side of politics (“lunzheng”). In a perfect world, freedom of speech should be a universal right; but even in the real world, is it necessary to kill the chicken (in order to scare off the monkey)?
What’s really amazing is that, instead of downplaying this whole embarrassing episode, the Chinese officials decided to respond in a high-profile manner (at least diplomatically), not knowing that their clearly “developing” judiciary would then be subject to another round of scrutiny under the spotlight.
To be fair, it takes time to change and reform, and the Chinese government has been doing a hell of a good job over the last 20 years (since that fateful summer of 1989), by successfully waking up a sleeping dragon (something that was long overdue since the Hundred Days Reform of 1898). But then again, it takes A LOT of courage to speak up (especially when you knew your life would be ruined); and speaking up against what’s wrong is the first step to change and reform. It would only make sense if the ruling party embraces dissent as part of their “internal auditing”, instead of curbing people’s enthusiasm.