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Nobel and China: In the footsteps of Nazi Germany?

Analysis: Drawing a line from Liu Xiaobao to Hitler. No, really.

Beijing, nonetheless, insists the prize is “a farce.” Officials accuse the Norwegian Nobel Committee of plotting to derail their economic miracle. This campaign has gained traction. At least 18 nations have declined invitations to this year’s award ceremony (although many have declined to state that this was in solidarity with China). Even United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay is sitting this one out.

Outside China, sympathizers have suggested that an ill-advised prize is hardly out of the ordinary: past Nobel laureates include alleged war criminal Henry Kissinger in 1973. In contrast, Nobel omissions include Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi and Chinese economic reformer Deng Xiaoping, whose pro-market policies helped lift some 600 million people out of poverty over the past three decades.

In the run-up to the Nobel ceremony, China cobbled together an alternative to the gilded Oslo affair: On Thursday December 8, it awarded its first Confucius Prize to Lien Chan, a former Taiwanese vice president. (This public relations move wasn’t very well orchestrated: through a spokesman, Lien said that he had never heard of the prize, and had no intention to pick it up, according to NBC News.)

Again, there’s precedent for China’s anti-Nobel campaign. After Ossietzky’s prize was announced in 1936, the Nazis formally protested to the Norwegian government. The following year, Hitler declared that Germans would no longer be allowed to receive the prize. Instead, Germany would establish its own alternative prizes, in science and art.  

Follow him on Twitter: @DavidCaseReport