The world mourns Liu Xiaobo

China has rejected criticism following the death of dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, who was not allowed to leave the country despite having terminal cancer. Liu's struggle for freedom was rewarded in 2010 with the Nobel Peace Prize. But throughout his decades-long campaign for democracy Liu was left in the lurch by the West, commentators complain.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

West has betrayed itself and Liu Xiaobo

The West failed Liu Xiaobo, La Repubblica believes:

“Right up until his last day Liu Xiaobo was a thorn in the regime's side, because he was the living link between the modern human rights struggle and the explosion of the Chinese 'spring' [on Tienanmen Square in 1989]. ... One slogan back then ran: 'This is our country. If we don't do what we must, who will do it for us?' Certainly not the West, which mourns Liu Xiaobo today although it should have done more for him while he was still alive. He was left in the lurch in prison - at every G7 summit, at every bilateral meeting, with every handshake with the Beijing leadership. The inactive West succumbed again and again to the temptation of realpolitik. In so doing it betrayed the poet - and itself.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Like parakeets in a cage

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo didn't stand a chance in the fight against the powerful regime, NRC Handelsblad explains:

“Thanks to the Internet, which he describes as 'God's gift to China', he inspired hope. But that was one of his miscalculations. Certainly he was not the only one who believed that the growing number of Internet users would make the calls for political reforms louder. But the opposite happened: the state is intensifying its attack on the digital world on a daily basis. The regime takes quick and effective action against writers, bloggers and lawyers who express views that differ from its own. Naturally Liu Xiaobo has his supporters, but they necessarily live in a parallel world. … The long-time environmental activist Dai Qing once aptly said: 'Dissidents are like parakeets in a cage'. The loudest and best-known parakeet has now died.”

La Croix (FR) /

Inflexibility a sign of weakness

Liu Xiaobo's death speaks volumes about the regime in Beijing, La Croix comments:

“China has let a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize perish. ... However the face-off between this fierce defender of democracy and the regime is by no means over. Because Liu Xiaobo's tragic destiny will shed a paradoxical light on the Chinese Communist Party and its General Secretary Xi Jinping for a long time to come. Inflexibility is also a sign of weakness. By suffocating a voice that demanded respect for human rights and free elections, the system has revealed the fragility of its own legitimacy.”