(TibetanReview.net, Feb17’16) – The address of the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, may soon be ‘1, Liu Xiaobo Plaza’, named after the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate jailed by China for campaigning for democracy for his country. That’s because on Feb 12 the US Senate unanimously passed a bill that would institute that address.
Liu Xiaobo, 60, had co-authored a pro-democracy manifesto called Charter 08 and was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for allegedly inciting subversion of state power. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since his Nobel award in 2010.
The bill was authored by Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who secured Democratic cooperation by removing holds on long-pending diplomatic appointments. Its passage followed a bipartisan push in 2014 led by the late Republican congressman Frank Wolf, which won the endorsement of Liu Xia.
Although the House is also seen as being likely to pass the bill, the White House has indicated that it may veto the legislative proposal.
“While we continue to impress upon China the imperative of respecting human rights and releasing Liu Xiaobo, as well as other political prisoners, we do not believe Sen. Cruz’s ploy to rename a street in Washington, DC is an effective way to achieve either goal,” chinadigitaltimes.net Feb 15 quoted a White House official as saying. “In fact, legislative stunts such as this complicate our efforts. We oppose this approach and would prefer to work with Congress on more productive ways to address our shared goal of improving human rights in China and around the world.”
Cruz has blasted the White House veto threat, calling it “yet another outrageous example of this administration’s eagerness to coddle an authoritarian Communist regime.”
Spokesman Zhu Haiquan of the Chinese embassy has described the proposal as “provocative and counterproductive”. And the state-owned Global Times newspaper described those behind the move as “vile characters” China will deal with in its rise.
The newspaper said the Senate move was not a big deal and then went on to make a big deal of it. It said: “The US has been at its wits’ end in dealing with China as it is reluctant to employ military threats or economic sanctions that may backfire. The only option for Washington seems to be petty actions that disturb China. But these can help China better understand what vile characters it will meet during its rise and face whatever awkwardness comes by dealing with them.
“This latest move by Congress cannot change the fact that Liu jeopardized China’s national security and was sentenced to jail. The rise of China is being confronted by external forces like the US. Whether Liu feels proud of such turbulent embraces from the West or not, he has become a tool of the West against China.”