After decades of self-isolation, China in the last three decades has opened to the world and undergone one of the greatest economic transformations in recorded history. Economically and culturally, China has become an impressive player on the world stage – showing confidence and strength.
But the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize for a Chinese dissident in October – and the shrill Chinese reaction to it – revealed an altogether different side: a brittle, defensive one-party regime unable to handle criticism and willing to bully others into submission.
Within its own borders, it has blocked news of the award from media and the Web, put activists under house arrest and refused to allow the winner to attend the ceremony.
But it is China's escalating reaction in the world arena that should be of concern.
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First, it called the prize interference in China's internal affairs.
Then it sent warning letters to European ambassadors in Norway, requesting that they not attend the Dec. 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo and not make any statements in support of the winner.
Now China's G-20 negotiator has said that countries that attend the award ceremony must be ready to "accept the consequences," whatever that means.
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