It is encouraging news that China’s jailed dissident Hu Jia won the EU top human rights award Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. When the world focused its attention on China’s engine of growth for the world economy, the award is a strong reminder that there are brave people on the mainland fighting for freedom of speech and human rights and who are jailed as a result of their belief and their pursuit.
China’s ambassador to EU, Song Zhen, wrote to the president of EU assembly, on the eve of the prize announcement, saying that “if the European Parliament should award this prize to Hu Jia, that would inevitably hurt the Chinese people once again and bring serious damage to China-EU relations.” This is tantamount to a threat, which would have angered many people in Europe.
Will China one day learn to be a “civilized” country to match its rising economic power and aspriation to be a power on the world stage? I wonder.
Hu Jia, 35, a campaigner for civil rights, environmental protection and Aids advocacy, was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail on subversion charges in April after a one-day trial.
His mother said after his son was taken away: “ I hope my son would be the last person in China who is jailed because of his speech.”
Hu Jia has a daughter who was merely a few months old when he was put in jail. She will turn one next month.